|Gene Loves Jezebel - Exploding Girls|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 12 August 2003|
Gene Loves Jezebel might logically claim to have been emo, before emo was cool. But such a statement would be all for the wrong reasons, since this band’s music is (and always has been) mostly whine, with few teeth. In the ‘80s, the group snuck into the alternative radio charts as an oddly successful outfit that was aligned with the Gothic rock movement, even though it was making music just as faceless as the worst examples of mainstream rock. (Alternative? What alternative?) Don’t be fooled by its title: Exploding Girls is not at all explosive. Instead, this project adds up to little more than an imploding whimper.
When you catch a whiff of what these wimps are saying, you almost wish you hadn’t. On “Downhill Both Ways,” for example, the band sings: “I’m just a man/I’m not an American.” And what does this nationality distinction have to do with anything? Heck if I know. The driving rocker “The Wanting Song” includes a guitar solo instrumental break. It’s not a particularly memorable musical moment, but it at least provides a respite from the otherwise intensely annoying vocal parts of this grating album. The treated vocals on “Jenin” are also welcome, not because they create a novel effect, but because it’s a momentary break from the childishly whiny vocal onslaught elsewhere. What Gene Loves Jezebel does might be called singing in some quarters, but it’s certainly not anything musical.
Gene Loves Jezebel’s sound is not as dated as many other ‘80s icons come off today, but this doesn’t mean we should be welcoming the group back with open arms. The band plays it like The Cult once worked it -- back before Ian and the boys discovered ACDC and all the glory of Marshall amps. This is one band in dire need of a swift kick in the backside, because these little boys don’t know how to do much more than constantly cry wolf.
Some of these songs might sound better (at least conceptually) if you can imagine them being sung by someone (anyone) else. “My Heart’s A Flame,” for example, might work particularly well if The Cure’s Robert Smith were putting his character-drenched voice to its words. Similarly, the track “2 Hungry Women” rolls with a modified reggae beat that might suit the darkened world of Nick Cave. But such hypotheses only work for those with highly developed imaginations. Sitting through this album is a little like digging through dog poop just to get to something valuable. You wonder if it’s even worth all the stinky effort.
Exploding Girls is little more than a collection of overripe Gothic mush, by a band that should have been relegated to ‘hits of the ‘80s compilations,’ rather than trotted out to make new music.