Bete Noire Review from the Melody Maker - Sat 7th Nov

Bete Noire Review from the Melody Maker
07 November 1987

Bryan Ferry Bete Noire Released 2nd November 1987.

We seem to clutching at any old back-yard anti-pop screech in search of the fresh and new, thus ending up with The Jesus and Springsteen Chain, The AR Kane Gang, and the Hersham Pet Shop Boys. Where we perhaps "ought" to look is toward the classy aliens, the distinctive born outsiders. Thus Sylvian's new lagoon, the ever-so-yearning bit in Donna Summer's Dinner With Gershwin where she goes 'so close, just as close as I can get' and of course Bjork's Birthday have licked the heels of God's toenails with an aplomb to shame the rest of the year's laborious runts. We need aesthetics and lazy instinct if we're to stick an arm up and catch an albatross as we drown. And right here is where old Uncle Bry starts praying again.
As far removed from Pop Will Eat Itself as Catherine Deneuve from Su Pollard, Bete Noire is slim, glacial and smells sublime. Radical, no, but a generation whose style icons include Paula Yates and Jonathan Ross desperately needs a considered demonstration of knowing class, the sophistry of old-style "romantic bluff" if we're to see Champagne and Roses outlive Dirty Den and Atari.
With Boys and Girls, Ferry reached the zenith of his vagueness. It was the least eventful record of all time. As such, one could only pan it then, after cooling down, hold it up to the light and marvel at its *perfect* lack of any emoting. It was a muted sigh, not even a gasp, a decade (more) since he had tried to put it into words on Mother of Pearl.
The '87 model, starting with Limbo (ha!), hovers slyly, waiting, observing, winking once so quickly you can't be sure you didn't imagine it. And as his doddering peers try everything from hapless hip-hop to whorish haircuts, Bry just ropes in some dickhead indie guitarist called Johnny Marr, knowing this will win him fifty thousand credibility units, then order him to play Manzanera on mandrax. Relax! A few titles with chic rugged-but-elegant connotations - The Right Stuff, Seven Deadly Sins, Kiss & Tell - and we're home and moist. The clicking of typewriters, the coo of lust from Siedah, Tawatha, Fonzi and Pine. That Ferry can slide this definitive absence of commitment, this crinkled twinkling narcissism into the homes of millions is a conjuring trick of devastating skill. Bete Noire is pure nihilism, a veiled zero in flames, a hedonistic long hot bath while Rome freezes over. It is utterly out of touch with reality. I recommend it without reservation.

Melody Maker 7th November 1987.
Written by Chris Roberts.

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