Imagine a piano bar of the next century, outfitted with Kurzweils and Rolands rather than baby grands, and it's not hard to picture a framed photo of Marc Almond taking the place of Mel Torme. Best known as the former frontman of Soft Cell, whose cover of the soul song "Tainted Love" assured the group immortality by way of compilations of '80s hits, Almond has since had a prolific, if low-profile, career. He's essentially a latter-day cabaret artist, continuing to record original songs while releasing the occasional inspired cover, including an entire album dedicated to Jacques Brel. By establishing himself as a smoky male chanteuse of the synth age, something no one else has bothered to do, Almond has staked out a territory all his own. The new Open All Night doesn't break radically with that image, assuring that fans will find plenty to like while casual Soft Cell listeners find little of interest. Opening the door on a private world of romantic martyrhood set to electronic beats, Almond's songs have a creepy, dark quality captured well throughout the album, but especially on "Almost Diamonds" and "When Bad People Kiss." But it's the album-closing (and, curiously, available only on the U.S. version) "Beautiful Losers" that gives Open All Night its sole moment of transcendence, an urgent anthem for the black-clad dispossessed that's sure to be a hit for 21st-century lounge singers far and wide.

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