Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Artist: Gene Loves Jezebel (@)
Title: Dance Underwater
Format: CD
Label: Westworld Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Here's a band whose name should be instantly recognizable to elder goths; a band with a convoluted history who have managed to sustain themselves since the earliest '80s in one form or another. Without going into a lot of detail, Gene Loves Jezebel revolved around the identical twin Aston brothers, Jay and Michael. Back when they were together, Michael was the lead singer and Jay the singer/guitarist. After their 1987 'House of Dolls' album, Michael split going solo while Jay continued the band. After reunions, breakups and a lawsuit over the use of the name, there are now two Gene Loves Jezebels. Michael, who stayed in the U.S. gets to call his band Gene Loves Jezebel when performing in the United States, but in the U.K. has to call it Michael Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel in the U.K.. With Jay, the opposite is true. So then, whose band is this album? Well, being released in the U.K., it's Jay's band, as he gets to use the name without having to prefix his own name. It's the first new Gene Loves Jezebel release in 14 years. Starting out as a semi-punky goth-glam band that to me sounded a bit like The Cure with more energy and less depression, over time GLJ became less gothy and more alternative rock. By the time Michael left, most of the musical goth aspect of the band left as well, although I'm not saying he took the goth with him. Be that as it may, how does this new effort fare? Well, to be truthful, it's not a goth album, although it does touch on some of the old GLJ magic. Not surprising since Jay was the band's main songwriter anyway, and he and his brother had similar vocal characteristics. Along with old GLJ bandmates Pete Rizzo (bass), James Stevenson (guitar) and Chris Bell (drums) Jay puts across a credible effort of polished songs that in a fair world would garner a good amount of airplay on college and alt-rock radio stations, if in fact there are any of the latter left. The opener, "Charmed Life" is an inspirational number about "never giving up..never giving in". It sounds quite different than what you might associate with the GLJ style. "Summertime" sounds like the perfect song to play for an outdoor cocktail party. Yet I'm not getting that signature GLJ vibe until "IZITME" and while it won't burn down the house, it does bring back some of the band's old magic. "Cry 4 U" is another tune that hearkens back to the band's earlier days. "Flying (The Beautiful Blue)" is a nicely constructed number, although rather lightweight for GLJ. If you're looking for a rocker in the band's classic style, look no further than "World Gone Crazy." Well done, and you can still hear those trademark Aston cries and wails now and then. As for the rest of the album, it sounds like polished alt-rock, but that's not our specialty here, so 'nuff said about that. For older GLJ fans, you can expect a few echoes of the glorious past, but Jay has grown and matured now, and the Goth aspect seemed to have been more or less a passing phase. I wouldn't write this off completely, but don't expect to be blown away by it.


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