November 15–22, 2001
Biscuit Boy a.k.a. Crackerman
(Mercury/Universal Records import)
Name an underrated master of sophisticated Britpop. Andy Partridge? Obviously. Glenn Tilbrook? Of course. But the time has come to recognize Paul Heaton. After all, he has spent the last 16 years fine-tuning his cerebral songcraft, first as a member of jangle-pop titans The Housemartins and later as the brainchild behind the pub-thumping soul of The Beautiful South. Taking a brief sabbatical from that band, Heaton has just released his first solo effort as Biscuit Boy. Available as an import, the album is a mixture of old-fashioned pop laced with elements of gospel and blues, marked by his soaring, soulful voice and cracker-dry wit. The album opener "10 Lessons in Love" is a funky, and hysterical, guide to seduction for overweight women. Other highlights include the bitingly sarcastic atheist anthem "If" and the vague doo-wop of "The Perfect Couple," in which Heaton references both Kate Bush and House of Pain. He isn’t exactly pushing the creative envelope with this release. But with pop biscuits this tasty, it would be a shame to change the recipe.