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0898 Beautiful South

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Album Review

The Beautiful South's 1989 debut would be important if only to mark the partial continuance of the Housemartins' legacy. But when vocalist Paul Heaton and drummer Dave Hemmingway greeted the world with Welcome to the Beautiful South, the handshake came with a Cheshire grin. Nothing in the Beautiful South was as it seemed. Where there was jaunty, jazzy pop, crossed fingers warned of murderous lyrics. If a single featured a fluttering flute, it was filled with familial terror. "Woman in the Wall," featuring one of the year's most memorable melodies and Heaton's plaintive lead vocal, also featured lines like "He'd enjoyed the thought of killing her before" and "when the rotting flesh began to stink." But even in the album's most gruesome moments, the streak of cynical, caustic sarcasm running through it was as clear as crop circles. This fact only made Welcome's twee goodness that much more fun, for with each well-placed barb it further proved what the Housemartins had started: pop didn't have to be stupid.

Customer Reviews

Clever Brit pop from reliable hands.

Funny, literate, a little frightening. My favorite cut is still "The Rocking Chair," with its narrator's wistful recognition of being out of place, out of style and out of touch (but carrying on regardless).


Formed: 1989 in Hull, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Following the disbandment of the British indie pop group the Housemartins in 1989, vocalist Paul Heaton and drummer David Hemmingway formed the Beautiful South. Where their previous group relied on jazzy guitars and witty, wry lyrics, the Beautiful South boasted a more sophisticated, jazzy pop sound, layered with keyboards, R&B-inflected female backing vocals and, occasionally, light orchestrations. Often, the group's relaxed, catchy songs contradicted the sarcastic, cynical thrust of the lyrics....
Full Bio