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Published On: Fri, Jun 30th, 2017

Gene Loves Jezebel: Dance Underwater

Gene Loves Jezebel
Dance Underwater

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As an avid 80’s music fan and mostly-reformed goth kid, I always jump at the chance to hear what all those iconic bands are up to now. Gene Loves Jezebel is an especially interesting case because of the 2009 lawsuit over the name, the feud between brothers Michael and Jay Aston, and the rather surreal decision to let each brother use the name for their iteration of the band. For example, this album was released by Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. It was produced by Peter Walsh, who has worked with Alphaville, Clan of Xymox, and on Gene Love Jezebel’s 1987 release House Of Dolls.

The first track, “Never Give In,”  honestly left me feeling disappointed and unsure of what else to say about this album. My knee-jerk reaction was “Why did they have to Autotune the vocals?!” It felt like they were trying too hard to stay current. The production value sounded too slick for them in a way that will undoubtedly sound dated in another 5-10 years.

However, “Summertime” sounds more like the original Gene Loves Jezebel (the one with both brothers in the band). That was when I breathed a sigh of relief and decided I should give it more of a chance. “Desire” it is not, but it has a simple grooving bass line and a sort of glitzy, glam rock feel to it that’s familiar and shows off their iconic sound. “IZITME” has a deceptively cheesy title for a track that could have come from the vaults of the 80s. It has catchy guitar licks and even a Bowie reference in the lyrics.

“Cry 4 U” is another brooding, goth-glam love song, but a more modernized take with cleaner drums and a sort of artificially bright transparency that only today’s technology can lend. The final track and a nod to the title, “I Don’t Wanna Dance Underwater,” is another ballad and a surprisingly sincere ending to an album which seems, at times, to poke fun at itself in being so close (at times) to over-the-top.

If you keep in mind Walsh’s production involvement on their earlier work, you can definitely tell that he brought those influences to this album as well, which is the main reason I finally warmed up to it. I don’t think this is their strongest work, but there are a few solid and memorable songs that I would definitely put on my Obscure 80s Bands: Where Are They Now? playlist, and I mean that wholeheartedly. Skip the first track if you have to and be open-minded when you listen. There are definitely some good ones here.

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Gene Loves Jezebel: Dance Underwater