I just got this double CD, a compilation of seven albums Momus put out between 1987 and 1993. Some extraordinary songwriting, the most literary lyrics in contemporary music (Bluestocking is almost entirely a list of the books his lover has read!) but not in a look-at-me-I’m-clever way, more like listening to one of your more intelligent and sardonic friends musing over a rinky-tinky cheap electro beat. The melodies are flowing, Europop, like the best of the Pet Shop Boys or early Scott Walker without the orchestras. I have many of these already on scratched vinyl or dull cassettes but hearing them again has me shocked at the guy’s talent. (If you’ve heard me sing Ricky, it’s based on Momus’s adaptation of Jacque Brel’s Jackie.)
Much of it is obsessionally focused on eroticism: The Homosexual uses the fact that mocking men think he’s gay to bed their partners; Love On Ice
explores Torville and Dean’s relationship, almost libellously; A
Complete History of Sexual Jealousy Parts 17-24 has him ‘jealous of the
man the man you broke the heart of broke the heart of’ (work it out!). It was with Hippopotamomus that he took up a dare to release the most perverted album ever released. The title track has him as a jungle-dweller preserved Pompeii-style by lava in the act of shagging a hippo, and placed on display in the Natural History Museum. A Monkey for Sally is literally about monkeying about. Don’t ask.
Like any compilation one would have selected slightly differently. For me the gem of that period is Christmas in Space from Timelord, where he left the sexual obsession for a while anyway, although the lovely Rhetoric from the same album is included. Also I would have included Three Wars, where he explores one man’s life at the ages 14-18 and 39-45 and an undated present through the metaphors of World Wars I, II and III.
Momus has produced dozens of albums since then, and I can’t keep track of him. Any exploration of his stuff will be richly rewarding and this album is a good starting point. Or try Momus’s website.