Gene Loves Jezebel
Let’s take a second to study Gene Loves Jezebel history, shall we: the band was one of the premiere alternative pop acts of the 1980s, selling tons of records on the strength of twin brothers Michael and Jay Aston’s angelic voices, which played off of each other in a magical way. The brothers parted ways following a bitter falling out, and both of them have since recorded albums under two different incarnations of the name “Gene Loves Jezebel.”
Exploding Girls is the latest from Michael’s Gene Loves Jezebel, and I must admit that neither of the GLJ branches have sounded this good for nearly 15 years! The majority of the album is powered by heavily distorted guitars, off kilter danceable drumbeats and Michael’s voice sounds just as spooky and challenging as ever. The title track is the album’s masterpiece, a plodding yet powerful rocker that’s mildly reminiscent of Dirty-era Sonic Youth, that is until the glorious chorus. The chorus features a winding guitar melody over which Michael throws his weary voice to classic GLJ heights. It sounds like it could have some success on college radio stations, if the DJ is willing to give these veterans an occasional spin.
Exploding Girls would probably be better if Jay was present to provide his lovely vocals in the “call and response” style that made 1986’s Discover such an alternative rock classic. That being said, this record is of the same caliber of Discover, if not somewhat better, due to the improvements in production and songwriting. I wasn’t expecting Exploding Girl to be this good, and I am more than pleasantly surprised. Fans of the darker side of pop music (The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, early New Order, Joy Division, etc.), this is one of the best postpunk/goth/pop records that’s been recorded in quite some time, and is totally worth picking up.
Gene Loves Jezebel: http://www.genelovesjezebel.com/