By Ludovic Hunter-Tilney
The new album from ex-Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton is an ambitious but scattershot tableau of the seven deadly sins, updated to include an eighth vice: gossip.
Originally a staging commissioned for last year’s Manchester International Festival, it frames the sins as symptoms of turbo-capitalism: “Greed” is about tax avoidance, “Wrath” is about a rapacious moneylender, “Pride” is about football’s commercialisation.
The songs, delivered by singers including Scottish alt-folkie King Creosote and Manchester singer-songwriter Cherry Ghost, juxtapose unobjectionable pop tunefulness with razor-sharp lyrics: a provoking mix of middle-of-the-road melodies and radical politics.
But Heaton’s polemic is blunted by a series of monologues spoken by The Wire actor Reg E Cathey, which seems to have been beamed in from a wholly different project.