The Beautiful South were one of the most likeable bands of the 90s, bypassing all fashion and musical trends with their uncanny knack of churning out wry pop vignettes. On the evidence of Gaze, however, the down-at-heel Hull collective have finally passed their sell-by date. Everything about this album feels tired and lacklustre, from the second-hand melodies to the half-finished lyrics, strongly suggesting that Paul Heaton and co have simply lost their enthusiasm for the whole business. The formula is the same as ever - chirpy guitars, shared male-female vocals and bluff Northern humour about such domestic subjects as loveless marriages, alcoholism and transvestites. This time around, however, there's precious little wit to sweeten Heaton's unrelentingly bitter cynicism, which by this stage is beginning to become just a little tiresome. The Beautiful South have produced enough material to release two greatest hits collections - sadly, it's beginning to look unlikely that they'll ever make it to their third.