Andy Bell – Torsten, The Beautiful Libertine (SFE)
CD / DL
4 March 2016
8.5 / 10
Erasure vocalist releases his sixth solo album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
Andy Bell returns as Torsten, the semi-immortal polysexual, in the follow up to 2014s brilliant song-cycle debut Torsten, The Bareback Saint (see review here). On the new album Bell once more confirms his ability to sing a mixture of theatre and pop with seemingly great ease.
Torsten carries on his loveless life despite engaging with many lovers along the way all of which he has seen disappear as he continues his lonely existence. The songs written once more by Barney Ashton-Bullock and Christopher Frost (Michael J Allison also contributes to My Precious One) are testament to a great songwriting team and one which has created a character with which Bell claims he can relate to on many levels.
The Beautiful Libertine sees a more commercial approach with less cabaret styled songs and more which could, if the many profanities are removed, achieve radio play. The profanities however are as much a part of the album, the character and indeed modern life as the songs themselves. Several references to gay sex, drug abuse and masturbation are part of the scenario and cannot be removed without taking away from the impact of the album as a whole.
Album opener, Statement Of Intent, as the title suggests sets the scene for what will come in the collection go seventeen tracks: “I don’t care if this record doesn’t sell…. I’ve stood before you all and said ‘Go To Hell’”, and it pretty much covers the theme of the story.
Torsten is now becoming slightly delirious, falling apart at the seams but his resilience remains strong as he carries on his existence knowing he will never find true love but living in hope that he will.
The Beautiful Libertine whilst a fictional character carries many episodes that will touch us all at some point in our lives, maybe Torsten is slightly more extreme but the fact remains that the down-to-earth structure of the album is its main feature.
Lead track from the album, My Precious One contains no offensive language and should propel Andy onto mainstream radio as a good advert for the album. It’s a song that is written in true classic pop style with a strong chorus and an infectious hook.
Photos Of Daniel recounts Torstens involvement in a synth pop band who could have been ‘the next Eurythmics’ (surely there were other synth pop bands to choose from!), and a duet with Lana Pillay on (Oooh Baby, You’re So) Queercore! provides a fascinating interplay between the two vocalists.
Blow Jobs For Cocaine again reminds us of the often sordid tale, and We Were Singing Along To Liza a sad tale of a Mothers love for her Son and the acceptance of his homosexuality.
Once more it is a captivating and charming account of the irrepressibly lovable Torsten, and maybe leads the way to just one more chapter in the series?
Andy will be performing Torsten, The Beautiful Libertine from 2nd to 27th March at the Above The Stag Theatre in London.
The Andy Bell website is here: andybell.com. Andy can be followed on Twitter as @andybell_info and Liked on Facebook.
The Saint Torsten micro-site is here: saint-torsten.com. ‘Torsten’ tweets as @saint_torsten and can be Liked on Facebook.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.