Music Reviews

Gene Loves Jezebel

Voodoo Dollies: The Best of Gene Loves Jezebel

Beggars Banquet

Usually, “best of” albums either serve as historical fodder or a cash-in on a (once) too-hot-to-handle trend. Gene Loves Jezebel’s Voodoo Dollies: The Best Of serves as both. Taking sonic cues from early U2, Adam Ant and Duran Duran, the Jezebels (led by brothers Michael and Jay Aston) dredged up an art-rock brew that, while distinctly theirs, was quite vogue in the post-New Romantic/pre-Goth infestation era. Alternatingly sexy/shimmering, slinky/slick, crassly commercial/non-conformist, GLJ’s sound was in perpetual transition in order with the day: From the proto-Goth anthem “Shaving My Neck” (criminally omitted on Voodoo Dollies ) to the Hollyrock buttshaking of 1990’s Kiss of Life (and then on to the cliched “return to form,” whatever one that may be, of 1993’s Heavenly Bodies ), GLJ somehow always remained GLJ, which in retrospect, seems completely baffling. In any case, Voodoo Dollies displays, full-frontal nude-style, how baffling (good and bad) the Jezebels – and the ’80s in general – were, with each of their six albums receiving near-equal treatment.

More than anything, GLJ was a sign of the times, and how those times gradually changed. Much like the Cult, the March Violets and a number of other lesser Batcave alumni, GLJ graduated from pretentiousness to preposterousness, from gothic artsy-fartsyness to stadium-ready stoopidity, to suit the winds of commercial change. But as pockmarked as that may sound, the band still remained a guilty, guilty pleasure, and above all, a sign , a sign that some eras will remain infinitely more special, more ingrained into our collective consciousness. And that, alas, time moves on. Voodoo Dollies : history of trends indeed.

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