It's hard to imagine Sex, Age and Death displacing 1994's The Vegetarians of Love as anyone's favourite Bob Geldof album, bereft as it is of the latter's freewheeling Celtic crunch and prickly bonhomie. However, one suspects that the Great Gob Himself will be far happier that this is not only his most fearless work to date, but his most ruthlessly argumentative. Even if the arguments are largely directed against two people--Paula Yates in the almost joyously cruel album-opener "One for Me", Michael Hutchence in scorn-dripping penultimate track "Inside Your Head"--who are too dead to reply. Geldof's hardly the first singer/songwriter to hold forth on the subjects of this record's title (and their seemingly missing-in-action fourth, love, which makes a last-minute appearance in a paean to his current partner, poised prettily naked in a chair reading Baudelaire). Nevertheless, he's one of the few artists brave enough to cast his raw, angry tales, and by extension himself, in a light this unflatteringly realistic. Indeed, this album's musical suppleness--the chilled beats of "New Routine" and falsettoed funk of "Mind in Pocket", the wide-screen Floyd-isms of "Mudslide" and uncannily Cohen-esque "Pale White Girls"--offers practically the only relief from un-minced, ugly-truth words that refuse to be knit back up with anything like closure. Or, indeed, forgiveness, the lack of which, of course, is the saddest and most realistic touch of all.