In pop music, as in life, there's always a place for the simple things. That may explain the return of Soft Cell, the British techno-pop duo that sold millions of records two decades back with simple beats, simple melodies and stories of simple decadence.
The best thing that's happened for singer Marc Almond and keyboardist David Ball in the 20 years since their heyday is the improvement in synthesizers.
It's given their new reunion album "Cruelty Without Beauty" -- whose title Almond got backward Monday at the House of Blues in Anaheim -- a fuller, more sophisticated air than their all-electronic songs of yore.
Those cheesy sounds presumably were intentional, a manifestation of the monochromatic emotions Soft Cell celebrated and lamented. In the new single "Monoculture," Almond once again echoes musically what he sees in the world around him:
Life is losing all its flavor
Everything's the same
Again and again and again
Over and over and over
As it unfolded in concert, however, this nonstop cabaret was more metronomic than erotic.
Almond, with his bleached-blond hair and herky-jerky dance moves, is a moderately engaging singer, and his voice is more assured than it was in the '80s, but he still comes off like a poor man's David -- Bowie or Byrne, take your pick.
The mostly thirtysomething, less-than-capacity crowd also reveled in simple things: nostalgia for the soundtrack of their teen years, and lots of dance-ready beats.
Where: The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
When: 8 tonight
Price: $35 to $45
Contact: (213) 380-5005