By Sander Wolf

The Cruel Sea
The Honeymoon Is Over

Beginning with the bright and unexpected instrumental "Orleans Stomp" and throughout the remainder of The Honeymoon Is Over, The Cruel Sea blends its clear pop stylings with slick rhythms and borderline Country & Western textures. Organ riffs and loose beats support Tex Perkins' rough and tumble voice as he delivers lyrics that frequently apologize, but never challenge. The resulting combination, while not completely successful is, like a trip to Burger King, at least palatable.

Originally released in Australia in mid-1993 -- where The Cruel Sea have been likened to Nirvana, Perkins is a national sex symbol, and water spirals the wrong way down the sink -- The Honeymoon Is Over has already racked-up double platinum sales. Sample lines like "Gonna send you back to where ever the hell it was you came/Then I'm gonna get this tattoo changed to another girl's name" from the title track and "Runnin' down the street in the pourin' rain/Burnin' down the houses in the neighborhood again/Stealin' pet food draggin' my chain/Bathin' in the light of a naked flame" from "Naked Flame" are initially witty, but careful listeners will notice the veneer has faded by the time that the cliched album ending songs "Let's Lay Down Here & Make Love" and "Blame It On The Moon" come around. Fortunately, as long as you're willing to dispense with searches for any greater meaning, The Cruel Sea comes through with some solid instrumental backing. The album's production is remarkably airy and uncluttered despite the abundance of "extras" like tribal percussion, sugary slide guitar, and choruses of background vocals that somehow end up in all the right places. All of which makes The Honeymoon Is Over's frequent instrumentals the most appealing part of the album.

"Seems Twice," with its jiggling bass and wah-guitar mimics the actions of a frisky newborn animal, "The Right Time"'s slide guitar and huge drums makes for perfect California Surf-Rock, while "X-N-Pop"'s slightly harsher chords could make the band a lot of money as the perfect backdrop for an Australian beer commercial. It's these songs that provide The Honeymoon Is Over with enough variety and novelty to make The Cruel Sea's transition from Down Under Heroes to American Successes a smooth one.