[15] The Beautiful South, ‘Prettiest Eyes’

Junior strolled around the room for the duration, looking solemn but trying to hide a smirk. Well, how apt! Paul Heaton delivered his kitchen sink dramas and trad love songs with a figurative wink almost every time. Almost every time.

‘Prettiest Eyes’ sounds sincere to me, a warts-and-all celebration of a love grown old yet never stale. “Sixty 25th of Decembers/Fifty-nine 4th of Julys” are writ in every laughter line, “and I only write them down just in case/You should die”. It’s a great glob of sentiment, but that glob isn’t gloopy and Heaton inhabits the older man as if he’s the future he longs for. It’s all set in a typically radio-friendly arrangement, the type of comfortable noise that passed everyone by until they idly nosed at the greatest hits set at the end of this year and made it one of the fastest selling albums in history. That was a bolt from the blue.