Daring, flamboyant and intelligent, Marc Almond would have been a brilliant mainstream pop star. Sadly, however, his band Soft Cell always seemed to hover on the brink of the bigtime without ever actually reaching it. His latest project sees him gather together a group of Icelandic songwriters and musicians for a collection of offbeat, theatrical pop. The mood is downbeat, as you might expect from one of pop's greatest miserabilists, but the production is lush and most of the songs sweep by with grace and style. Almond's voice is definitely an acquired taste but his willingness to experiment is truly admirable and this rich, soulful album is up there with his best work.