Momus – Tender Pervert

  • Artist: Momus
  • Year released: 1988 on Creation Records
  • Genre: Post-punk, alternative

“I think a common theme is “aggression against normality”, from the left wing terrorists in The Happy Family album through the Maoist intellectuals and fake homosexuals of Tender Pervert, the baby-hating, doppelganger-haunted narrators of Ping Pong, right up to the eccentric ‘Thunderclown’ on the new album, my characters don’t accept the world as it is. The corollary is that they respect otherness, and try to model other ways of living: parallel worlds. I think of this as basically a (post-Christian) Calvinist mindset.” – Nick Currie aka Momus in an interview for The Quietus

After a stint in the musical wilderness, I finally found myself bereft of records to review. Nothing seems fully satisfying after that glorious moment of truth – that you now only crave music that sounds like a frenzied jazz band playing in a mental institute. I still don’t know whether if I should feel happy or terrified, actually. (See this review for more information.) So…I present thee: Tender Pervert!

Nicholas Currie, also known as Momus, is:

  • A fifty something Scotsman who makes literate, wry pop music steeped in philosophic ideals, that may make you cry, laugh, smile or on occasion feel all of the above. His namesake comes from the Greek god of mockery.
  • He has written two books: The Book Of Jokes and The Book Of Scotlands. He also blogs on his own site, which documents his daily life, tours and visits all round the world. He also muses a lot on art gallery exhibitions, which are very interesting.
  • Nick wears an eyepatch over his right eye as he is partially blind, caused by an amoeba infection. (He washed his contact lens with questionable tap water in Greece.) This, coupled with his adorably eccentric taste for loose, asymmetrical clothing, gives him the appearance of a hip pirate.
  • For all his talk about art and philosophy, he comes across as a talkative man possessing no airs, if not certain starry-eyed visions of glamour and pop stars. I don’t blame him though…

Every review on this website, annoyingly enough, has to have a backstory of sorts. (The last one didn’t, though.)

I was corresponding with a witty, literate friend of mine through email, when the subject of music came up. Seeing her taste for delightfully flamboyant authors with sly wit (we were talking about Oscar Wilde), I casually mentioned Momus. In her next email, she wrote that she had indeed heard of Momus on the Creation Soup compilation (which I Googled out of curiousity, and now possess a fervent desire to procure.). Inevitably enough, I rooted around in my hard disk for Tender Pervert and listened to it yesterday. Then the brilliant idea of reviewing this dawned on me, and here I find myself, typing this out….

Tender Pervert sounds like the album that an author (how about Yukio Mishima in a westernized context?) would have come up with, if he carried out his musical intention like he wrote novels. Musically, the arrangement of the guitar lines, drum machines and synths border on a cheerful kitsch, and only serve as a minimal backdrop for the lyrics, highlighting them as a spotlight would on an actor during a scene. The lyrics show off his dazzling wordplay, which Momus deftly flourishes – like a cheerful matador swinging the red cloth of satire, towards the furious bull of normalcy.

The album starts off with The Angels Are Voyeurs, in which Momus imbues God with the ways of the pervert – he sends his trusty angels down to Earth to spy on humans, whose strange behaviour (not apparent to humans, unfortunately) tickle them and God greatly. Momus, half-whispering and half-fascinated, reaches a gleeful climax in a favourite lyric: “It intoxicates the perverts, watching how we thrill ourselves/ Not by sex but by devising new ways to kill ourselves.”  Further on, The Homosexual offers the thrills of a effeminate man pretending to be straight, but is actually gay. He also exacts revenge on his former bullies by having affairs with their wives. Joyous Momus, in his element, pours the proverbial stinging bile onto the men with the lyrics, “I won’t disabuse them/ I’ll make love with their women/I’ll make them sing notes of pleasure/ Their husbands will never hear”. Ouch. On A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousies (Part 17- 24) the drum machines burble  familiarly to the mutant pattern of New Order’s Blue Monday until Momus starts singing of the tortured jealousy men experience towards women. When Momus starts pouting and throwing a mini tantrum in  “And I don’t believe in platonic love/But I’m still jealous of Plato – what a bore!” you start laughing, but you also feel the murderous vibes. It is this duality of Momus’s lyrics – they are indecently light-hearted, but they also reveal the twisted perversity of human nature. The album closes with The Angels Are Voyeurs (Reprise) which is my favourite: God; finally done with humans as a petulant child is bored of his latest toys, instructs his angels to blow up the planet and  “make a planet more curvaceous and much sexier than ours/ Full of bigger sinners /More worthy, more worthy of voyeurs”. It’s hilarious in a gallows-humour way – every time I listen to this line I imagine aliens blowing up planet Earth while the humans, safe from harm in large spaceships, watch and shrug, saying, “It wasn’t even that good to begin with.”

On the whole, every song on Tender Pervert is A+, with a sly, knowing metaphorical wink. However, if you’re a prude or if you’re not keen on a idea of God being a pervert…turn your head away, please.

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