CD: Marc Almond, Heart on Snow

(XIII Bis)

Like Napoleon, pop stars can come a cropper in Russia. The baffling, hubristic Love and the Russian Winter left Simply Red frostbitten, and now Marc Almond brings us Heart on Snow, a labour of love for which it's hard to feel much affection.

A confirmed Russophile, Almond has no truck with the modern nation of billionaire oligarchs and tATu. He's wistful for the days of "working, waving the red flag and singing", although presumably not for gulags and the like.

Heart on Snow's Russian material, from 19th-century romance songs to pieces by gay Soviet dissident Vadim Kozin, certainly appeals to Almond's sense of melodrama but lacks the sly humour of Soft Cell and his best solo work.

The result is overcooked and often awkward. None the less, there's admirable boldness and integrity in making an album that only uses Russian musicians. Almond is surely the first western pop star to enlist the services of the choir of the Higher Naval Engineering Academy of St Petersburg, and probably the last.


Dorian Lynskey

The GuardianTramp

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