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Mind & Body

See [B]Rossiter[/B] as an emotional survivalist, hacking through the webbed tangle of pity and sorrow and doubt with a tear in his eye and a machete between his teeth, and the death-or-glory imagery

Damn faint praise. Damn 'sturdy' and 'reliable' and 'decent' and all those pale and malevolent adjectives that possess more destructive power than a whole viking fleet of expletives. Damn them, for Gene have always deserved better than that. Yet these are hard times - hard in ways beyond the implications of Martin Rossiter's recent bar-room brawl of a haircut, or the frequently lusty delivery of the music - hard because the only thing anyone's willing to give you these days is enough rope. There's certainly no time. No benefit of the doubt.



Like the violent small-town hell dissected in 'Sleep Well Tonight', music isn't too fond of granting second chances to those who falter or slow, who seem to succumb to moments of weakness. 'Knock 'em to the ground,' it cries. 'Get the punches in fast.' And then, gleefully, 'We'll see blood soon.' But whose blood?



Here in a converted church, Gene are refusing to play nearly dead. It's time to praise them, not to bury them, this band who appear hectic and happy, certainly in love with the music and each other and possibly enjoying a little midlife crush on Slade and Motvrhead and Status Quo as well. Because tonight, Matthew, Gene are going to be a rock'n'roll band.



While Martin plays the nightclub pugilist, the songs go on full ram raiding rampage. It might be down to having Mick Talbot as special keyboard star (an idea that sprang from under Steve Mason's sharp hairstyle, at a guess) but even the barbiturate-bottle blues of 'For The Dead' and the Sobranie-and-champagne sottishness of 'Be My Light, Be My Guide' sound fleshy, hyped-up, ready for trouble. If it seems like the inner fop has been cruelly crushed under one big butch boot, it's clear how this tough-boy act is continuation, not denial.



See Rossiter as an emotional survivalist, hacking through the webbed tangle of pity and sorrow and doubt with a tear in his eye and a machete between his teeth, and the death-or-glory imagery makes perfect sense. Immense belief and clawing fear vie for space every second, in the way the ash-flicking strut of 'We Could Be Kings' crumples into the line "will you catch me when I fall?", in the ferocious bravado of 'Fill Her Up', reeling out of the drunk tank and straight into bed.



And you think, how good it would be to see them flourish, to see in a new day, to roll with the punches and rock out unscathed. Yes, these are hard times, sad times, bad times, but there's still tomorrow. There's always tomorrow.
6 / 10

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