Anything Box

Worth

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Known as the "lost album," Worth is the ill-fated second release by the New Jersey-based synth-pop group Anything Box. Its 1990 debut album Peace, released on Sony, was a respectable seller and included two substantial club hits, "Jubilation" and "Living in Oblivion." Anything Box (lead singer Claude S. and Dania Morales) traveled to Germany with producer Gareth Jones (Erasure, Depeche Mode) in early 1991 to record the follow up, Worth. But by this time, Anything Box was involved in a contract dispute with its label; after a bitter legal battle, the band was allowed to leave Sony, but only if Worth was shelved. The band eventually was able to realease the album themselves in 2001. Worth rivals Depeche Mode's Black Celebration as one of the most beautifully dark synth-pop albums ever made.

"World Without Love," the album's opener, exemplifies the mood; Claude's aching, beautiful tenor seamlessly blends with soothing synths and Dania Morales' lovely background cooing. The song is not as depressing as its title indicates; unlike many synth-based groups that resort to self-parody with an excessive gloom and doom lyrical approach, Anything Box succeeds because of its optimism and heartfelt performances. "Soldier and Child" is another fine track here. The upbeat synth arrangement contrasts nicely with deceptively depressing lyrics and stunning vocals by Claude S. to create an obscure pop masterpiece.

Despite an unnecessary Beatles' cover ("All You Need is Love," which actually isn't bad), Worth is definitely "worth" searching for. Easily the best album Anything Box ever made.

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