October 22, 2018 Boy George & Culture Club – Life (Album Review)
Hear ye! Hear ye! Read all about this! It is finally peeking proudly with its bright and hopeful linings on the silvery horizon. It will soon be out! The album that countless enthusiasts of Classic ’80s New Wave music and the legions of Culture Club fans have been waiting for since the band’s re-formation in 2014 and announcement that a new album was in the works is coming to town. It may be noted that, as early as 2014, the reunited quartet have been staging successful concerts and teasing their audience with new music; and they remained true to their words.
The band that was formed in 1981, in London, England, by Boy George (vocals), Roy Hay (guitar, keyboards), Mickey Craig (bass), and Jon Moss (drums, percussion), during the explosion of New Wave music in the mainstream, is ultimately armed with a new album. Simply titled Life, Culture Club’s sixth offering follows 19 years after the release of its predecessor, 1999’s Don’t Mind if I Do. It will be unleashed officially on October 26, 2018, on BMG Records.
Life opens with the bass-heavy, Dubstep/Trance combo, mid-tempo dance-floor stomper “God & Love,” which is a manifestation of Boy George’s DJing and clubbing days in the 1990s, post-Culture Club heyday. This is then followed by the ’70s Disco-inspired, funky swagger of “Bad Blood.” A slight slowing down of pace and change of style comes next in the form of “Human Zoo,” which mixes Tropical vibes, Reggae rhythm, and Blue-eyed Soul melodies to great effect – exuding faint echoes of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” As the next songs play, the horn-adorned “Let Somebody Love You” and the smooth and jazzy ballad “What Does Sorry Mean,” the mood turns full-tilt Reggae and sexily loungy.
“Runaway Train” is another stylistic treat; its big sound swings across gracefully yet confidently, conjuring an image of the ever flamboyant Boy George strutting his colorful moves in the center of the Jazz lounge. Still on the same dance-floor, Boy George and the rest of Culture Club launch into the funky “Resting Bitch Face,” exuding a ’90s Dance Pop/R&B vibe in the veins of En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind.”
A highlight of the album, “Different Man” takes Boy George’s vocal maturity and lyrical proficiency to an even greater height, soaring on the wings of the delectable horn interlude. The beautiful, piano-led “Oil & Water” then stands out near the end of the set; it is a sure hit in the caliber of the band’s previous dives in romantic balladry, such as “Love Is Love” and “Mistake Number Three.”
Second-to-the-last song, “More than Silence” is what may be regarded as the album’s crowning glory – it is Culture Club in their New Romantic splendor – both musically and lyrically, all the necessary ingredients are strikingly elegant: “Watching you play our favorite song / Shutters down, headphones on / I want the world to know my pain…,” reflects the wistful yet hopeful Boy George, accompanied by the melodramatic instrumentation of Hay, Craig, and Moss. “I could use a little more than silence / Just three words that echo in my heart / I could use a little more than silence / Silence is the moon in a lonely sky.” Looking back then moving forward – perfect! That is Life!
Finally, the obviously reinvigorated Culture Club wrap up their latest, inspired work aptly with the slow, soft sway and gentle groove of the Gospel-inspired title track. Culture Club is indeed back!
Life is a delectable mélange of the trademark ingredients of the band’s music – New Wave, Dance Pop, Reggae/Ska, Sophistipop, and White Soul/Gospel. The fact that Boy George’s voice has become velvety and subtly gravely – no longer his tinny and cutesy chirp of old (or youth for that matter) – is something to look forward to. Life is a naturally yet carefully woven collage of all their previous works, plus extra musical points for the inevitable maturity. Their latest, masterful work is definitely Culture Club at their best! CrypticRock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.