All I want for Christmas is six Momus albums, says Andrew Eaton
If his name is new to you, hopefully I can talk you into sticking around. Momus is Nick Currie, a Scot whose cousin is Del Amitri's Justin Currie – although musically they have little in common, Nick being more of a kindred spirit of Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg, Paddy McAloon, Jarvis Cocker, Neil Hannon and Neil Tennant. He has been releasing albums as Momus (after the Greek god of mockery) since 1986, but, unlike the many people he has influenced – Tennant and Hannon being the most obvious examples – has remained a cult act. These days, Momus appears to make as much of a living out of magazine journalism as he does out of music, and his daily cultural blog at imomus.livejournal.com is endlessly insightful and entertaining.
It's quite odd, now, to think that someone like Momus was ever signed to Creation Records, best known as the home of Oasis, Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine. Momus's first album for the label, 1987's The Poison Boyfriend, began as he meant to go on, being a mostly acoustic collection full of big words and big ideas, whose songs referenced Wittgenstein, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, DH Lawrence and the German composer Friedrich Hollaender. Not an obvious drinking buddy of Liam Gallagher, then.
I was a teenager when I first discovered Momus, and, being a teenager, I loved the fact that his songs were both 1. full of intellectual cultural references and 2. mostly about sex, often explicitly so (his next album for Creation was called Tender Pervert). Both of these qualities probably explain why Momus has never made the leap to daytime radio (with the exception of one song, The Hairstyle of The Devil).
The Creation years are a fascinating journey through the evolution of Momus. By 1989's Don't Stop the Night he was embracing synthpop, which might have got him a hit had it not begun with a very dark song about an ageing doctor sexually exploiting female patients (Trust Me, I'm a Doctor) and continued with an even darker song about paedophilia (The Guitar Lesson).
Have I sold Momus to you yet? In most cases, I'm guessing perhaps not. He is not to everyone's taste, certainly, but he is one of our most astute – and often prescient – cultural commentators. Many years ago he wrote, paraphrasing Andy Warhol, that "in the future everyone will be famous for 15 people", correctly predicting an era when, thanks to the internet, the most leftfield of artists can easily find and maintain a small, devoted audience. This Christmas you can join Momus's club for free.