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The Vanity Set | The Vanity Set (Soul Sister)
The Vanity Set are all about crass romanticism and a decadent, blackfisted fatalism, the type associated with Nick Cave and his lot. This fact should little surprise, given producer/songwriter James Sclavunos' longstanding associations with said entourage. Sunglasses, slicked-back hair, jet-black boots and a rakish wardrobe set the scene for an "is that all there is?" reading of society and its penured participants. Yes, it's a bleak scene that Sclavunos sets, but not one without humor or the requisite decadent indulgences. Sclavunos knows the end is nigh, and that the road to it is mostly shit, but he'll be damned if that'll stop him from having a good time before his time is up. Here that means brooding in hyperbolic deadpan, croaking like a Muppet, or, ahem, softly singing in earnest and dulcet tones with help from the fairer sex. Speaking of which, where's the Sally Norvell solo record? I could easily do with an endless disc of her lugubrious, Dietrich-ish enunciations, drenched in sublimated sexuality. Uh, right. It all boils down to an apocalyptic cabaret fittingly underscored by lines like "It's begun to look like the beginning of the end of the line." Good fun, and just in time for Halloween.

G.C. Weeks
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000

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