On the initial pressings of the Uncle Devil Show's debut A Terrible Beauty, there was a sticker attached to the cover, informing all curious consumers that this is the "new project from Del Amitri vocalist/frontman Justin Currie!" This is needed, since Currie and his colleagues -- singer/songwriter Kevin McDermott and Simple Minds drummer Jim McDermott -- all take pseudonyms for this trio, all for no discernible purpose. That is, there's no purpose unless the alter egos allow all the three to indulge in a spot of adolescent wish fulfillment, an aural midlife crisis where the trio returns to the pop they loved as kids and starts cracking jokes, ranging from the silly to the profane. A Terrible Beauty earns its parental advisory sticker, too, since it seems like the group swears on every other track, but it's also a little strange to have it there, since it's difficult to believe that there are any teenagers out there who want to hear middle-aged guys in leather pants singing Beatlesque power pop. That said, the sensibility of the Uncle Devil Show is closer to that of Mad Magazine (or perhaps more accurately, Cracked Magazine), so any kid who does hear it will certainly get a chuckle out of some of the goofy jokes, but given the points of reference -- Gilbert O'Sullivan, Ricardo Montalban, Desperate Dan, musical allusions to "Hotel California" ("Strange Umbrella") and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" ("Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker"), a cover of Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby" -- it's much more likely that this will resonate with listeners who have grown up with Del Amitri and are also pining for those young and innocent days. If you share their sense of humor and nostalgia, the Uncle Devil Show can be a gleeful, entertaining excursion into candy-coated pop, filled with sweet, memorable hooks. If you don't share their perspective, the popcraft is still enjoyable, even if the humor keeps you at an emotional distance. Either way, A Terrible Beauty is a sparking, tuneful, cheerful pop record that's nearly as much fun as it was intended to be -- more fun than most latter-day Del Amitri albums, to be sure -- and is either a fun one-off project or a promising start for the Uncle Devil Show.
Some Songs here are stronger than the best things of Del Amitri. At least on the same level.
Very strong effort.