Punishing Kiss

It's intolerable. I cannot sleep, my love. The pretension sticks in my guts like a butcher's knife...

In the darkness, you gut me like a fish on ice. The chill of the night washes me like a bucket of donkey’s blood in June. I will drink day and night ’til I am 70 and still never forget your cruel nose. Oh, spite!

Blame the absinthe or the long leather coats, but the atonal moan of Berlin’s cabaret scene has cast too lengthy a shadow for too long over pop music’s secret red-wine drinkers. [a]Ute Lemper[/a]? [a]Ute Lemper[/a]is the [a]Madonna[/a] of the modern scene. She wears black leather and has a voice to make plants die, and for this she is applauded.

In fact, pop’s most crepuscular talents have emerged from their garrets to dance a doomed tango with Ute, until she stamps pitilessly on their necks. There’s Neil Hannon (and Joby Talbot, the arranging brains behind The Divine Comedy), Scott Walker, and of course, Lord Crumbling Ballroom himself, Nick Cave all writing for Ute on this LP in the genre’s signature jackbooted style. All pretty massive songwriting talents. All, so take me to the whorehouse and slit my throat at dawn, pretty bloody silly and self-conscious.

You know, the war’s over. There was once upon a time a good reason for the arch gun-in-your back melodies of Brecht and Weill, the discipline of the French [I]chanson[/I], but here really only the contributions of the perpetually after-hours Tom Waits seem anything more than a madly irritating, written-to-order art-school digression. The horsey braying and murderous screams of Lemper herself only makes it all worse.

It’s intolerable. I cannot sleep, my love. The pretension sticks in my guts like a butcher’s knife.