Most people have probably forgotten The Beloved by now – after all, they only had a couple of hit singles, and they were a long time ago. But hidden, somewhere back in the 1990s, are several extremely good albums, and one of them, Conscience, celebrates its twenty-fifth birthday this week.
Conscience was actually The Beloved‘s third album, following the largely ignored Where it Is (1987) and the hugely successful Happiness (1990). But this was their biggest hit, peaking at number 2 in the UK in early 1993.
The album opens with Spirit, a pleasant but relatively forgettable track with a bit of a gospel feel, which seems to be largely about the trials and tribulations of recording a comeback album. It includes what I think might be The Beloved‘s only example of a key change in the chorus, which maybe wasn’t their wisest move ever.
It didn’t need to be – the top ten hit Sweet Harmony is next. I think indisputably The Beloved‘s finest moment, this was of course the primary reason why this album was so successful. The world had waited a little over two years for their comeback, and then they reappeared with one of the catchiest pop songs of the decade. You can even forgive a extended saxophone solo when the song is this good.
There were actually three singles from Conscience in the UK, plus a couple of overseas and promo releases, and Outerspace Girl was the third of these. A minor summer hit, it easily has all the qualities that it needs, and despite a couple of slightly daft lyrics (“whizzing onwards at warp factor nine”) it’s really rather good.
Lose Yourself in Me is the moment where The Beloved decide to channel Depeche Mode, and while it may not be entirely successful in that regard, it’s still one of the best tracks on here, helped to stand out by the unique sound and mood.
The first weak moment on this album is the longer part-instrumental Paradise Found. I suspect the intention here was to try to recapture some of the mood of their brilliant 1990 remix album Blissed Out, but it doesn’t quite manage it unfortunately, and instead drags a little for its seven minute duration.
The second single was a double a-side of the middle two tracks on the album, led by the beautiful, semi-acoustic song You’ve Got Me Thinking, and backed with the deeper house Celebrate Your Life. Both are fantastic, as is the US-only single Rock to the Rhythm of Love that follows.
Let the Music Take You is a bit questionable, but it’s only the lyrics that are the problem, which are a little on the meaningless side. The general pop-house feel of most of the album continues, and actually it continues to come together rather well.
“Today I woke up smiling,” is the opening lyric on 1000 Years from Today, and it’s very fitting – there’s a glorious early-morning feel to the gentle house beats and rippling piano sounds. It might seem a little dated now, 25 years from its original release, but it still sounds extremely good.
The dreamy feeling continues with the fantastic Dream On, the six and a half minute ethereal piece that closes the album. It’s broad and huge, and a truly wonderful closing track for what really is a great and long-forgotten album.
Conscience is, ironically, one of The Beloved‘s weaker moments for me, and the fact that it’s overflowing with great songs is proof of just how good they were during the decade or so that they were on the charts. For me, a couple of decades on, I still really miss them.
You can find Conscience at all major retailers.