Universal - 2003 - 48 minutes

The Beautiful South's eighth studio album offers more of the band's famously individual brand of cynicism. Ex-Housemartin Paul Heaton and co-writer Dave Rotheray have long served up little doses of misery with a dash of self-deprecating humour. 'Gaze' continues that trend with songs like 'The Gates', about getting into heaven, '101% Man', concerning gay men, and 'Just a Few Things That I Ain't' a track that Heaton wrote as a disclaimer about himself.

The band's take on love has always been honest to the point of irreverence. Tracks like 'A Little Time' and 'Don't Marry Her' are decidedly unromantic and a little depressing, but at least they're different. 'Get Here' is a new example of this unique view. Cynical it may be, but no one does relationship angst like The Beautiful South.

No song on the album can match songs like 'Rotterdam' for sing-along fun and that's a let down, but 'Gaze' does cover a variety of themes and while world-weariness is ever-present, it's never oppressive. Despite the gloom, a very tongue in cheek offering.

Katie Moten

Tracklisting: Pretty - Just a Few Things That I Ain't - Sailing Solo - Life Vs the Lifeless - Get Here - Let Go With the Flow - The Gates - Angels and Devils - 101% Man - Half of Him - Spit It All Out - The Last Waltz