Say goodbye…wave hello! It’s been a long spell since we’ve heard from Soft Cell. Cruelty Without Beauty, released in 2002, was the last full record from the synthpop icons. Soft Cell’s groundbreaking album, Non Stop Erotic Cabaret, turns 40 this year.
“We’re working on a new album which is destined to come out next year or hopefully, as long as this pandemic thing subsides and I’m still alive,” Ball told the Press Association. “I’ve given him loads of music and he’s been giving me vocals and lyrics back with the music…We’ve been working remotely anyway before the pandemic.”
Dave Ball and Marc Almond started Soft Cell as students at Leeds Polytechnic in 1977, where Almond was majoring in performance art (mentored by Frank Tovey, aka Fad Gadget). Soft Cell quickly shot up to fame, and mild infamy, in the very early 80s, starting with their debut tour de force, Non Stop Erotic Cabaret. Still fresh out of the Leeds performance art scene at that point, Soft Cell shocked the British public with their flagrant sexual fluidity, BDSM imagery, and of course…the legendary banned Sex Dwarf video, starring a cast of nude transexual sex workers with chainsaws, maggoty meat, and a lot of leather harnesses.
By 1983, fame and drug use were having a bad effect on the duo, and they called it a day by 1984. Marc Almond sought a new path out of the glare of the Soft Cell spotlight, forming the group Marc and the Mambas, featuring collaborations with The The’s Matt Johnson and Annie Hogan. Marc Almond’s solo career has earned him great acclaim…and even awarded an OBE!
Ball went on to become a highly respected music producer, working with everyone from Psychic TV to Kylie Minogue to David Bowie.
Before reuniting in 2018 for the track Northern Lights (for their retrospective box set Keychains and Snowstorms), the two performed a 2004 “farewell show” at London’s O2 Arena, rekindling their creative spark. Things were put on hold around that time, however, when Almond barely survived a near-fatal motorcycle accident, landing in a coma for a month and requiring years of surgery and recovery.
Ball told the Daily Star, “We haven’t tried to write another Tainted Love. Maybe we should! …But it’d be inappropriate for two 60-something men to try to write bouncy little pop numbers. That doesn’t mean we’ve become miserable, and it’s not heavy industrial music either. I’d say the songs are sounding quite minimal, melodic and bass-driven.”
Last month, the band posted selfies in the studio on their social media…and yesterday they teased the release yet again with a photo of their discography on tape.
“Might be something to add to this superb collection of cassettes soon…
More details forthcoming. In the meantime, reminisce about the innovative back catalogue of Soft Cell, from the queer-anthem cover of Gloria Jones’ classic Tainted Love, to the ridiculous “music video nasty,” Sex Dwarf.