Marc Almond

Tenement Symphony

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Marc Almond's newest label jump resulted in what looked like an ideal creation on paper -- two songs produced and co-written by the Grid, the techno duo featuring Almond's Soft Cell collaborator Dave Ball, three more songs worked on with sole surviving Willing Sinner/La Magia member, keyboardist/orchestrator Billy McGee, and a mini-song cycle, "The Tenement Symphony" itself, produced by uber-studio wizard Trevor Horn. But did it work? Much like Enchanted, there's a little too much of Almond getting lost in rote synth-disco for comfort at points. But there are enough pluses to outweigh the minuses -- the opening "Meet Me in My Dream," one of the Grid collaborations, is a beautiful start, equal to "The Stars We Are," while the Symphony itself, though perhaps taking itself a bit too seriously as a conceit, has three solid singles to its credit -- a completely over the top (but what else to expect from Trevor Horn?) version of Jacques Brel's "Jacky," the concluding "My Hand Over My Heart," another sweep of the heartstrings dance ballad, and the surprise U.K. hit single of the bunch, the gentle and (for Horn) understated "The Days of Pearly Spencer," another '60s cover given the Almond treatment to good effect.

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