Most helpful positive review
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A lyrical exploration of love, thoughts and feelings
on 21 April 2003
Gene have really done themselves proud with this fantastic record. More polished than 'Olympian' or 'To See The Lights', the album takes the listener on an exhausting and melancholy journey through all the dark edges of human life.
It begins with 'New Amusements', a rocky and sinister romp, almost jubilantly plaintive and demanding in both words and crunching chords.
'Fighting Fit' is for me one of the highlights of the album, a fantastically frisky innuendo laden rhapsody about sex, basically, it has a beautiful tune but a very tough heart.
'Where Are They Now' conjures images of autumn and is the first truly melancholy song on the record. I think this song is incredibly insightful, with great lyrics like: 'The sky seems a little lower, but for that a normal day'.
'Speak To Me Someone' takes the emotional appeal to the next level. The slightly REM-ish chord patterns may sound a bit unoriginal at first but once the song kicks in, the product is a stunning vocal performance from Martin Rossiter and a stirring, evocative interpretation of depression.
If all that wasn't enough to start with, 'We Could Be Kings' is my personal favourite. It is a magnificent, anthemic song, a kind of nod to the British stiff-upper-lip attitude: continuing through the hard times and imagining what could be. Each part of the song is brilliant and perfectly conjured, from the superb guitar and rhythm, vocals which speak what everyone is feeling and the haunting melody. With a semantic field of getting in a car and going away somewhere, this song is good driving music!
'Why I Was Born' is a beautiful mellow ballad, seamlessly led in by piano at the end of 'We Could Be Kings'. The emotion on this song is so raw and open, it is literally a song to fall in love to. This also has some amazing guitar solos on it.
'Long Sleeves For The Summer' is a folky, acoustic workout. It seems very summery and light on the surface, but as with most Gene songs, has a dark heart. This song has some great lyrical twists too: 'a breath-grasping hand into the ether/Oh I beg you, take my with her'. It is a song which has been pondered over but seems effortlessly natural.
'Save Me, I'm Yours' tackles the issue of Rossiter's depression and fear of loneliness again. This song is particularly reminiscent of older Gene songs, but with that shiny production edge. It again has a great hooky riff, soaring melody and Rossiter's vocals sound particularly vulnerable and beautiful.
'Voice Of The Father' is a complete sea change from what we have seen so far, it is truly a rock song, which is black to the very heart and has that great crunchy sound to it. But it has a typical Gene twist; a quiet piano noodle in the middle which lulls the listener into a false sense of security before stabbing them right in the heart with another killer chorus.
'The Accidental' is for me, the low point of the album, but is still a decent song. Its slow, dull beating did begin to grate on me, and for some reason Gene employ an awful croaky female singer to rasp a verse of the track, which totally backfires. Still, the song has an interesting lyric about hidden guilt and sleepless nights.
'I Love You, What Are You?' more than compensates for the dodginess of the previous track. This is another walloping great power song, confident in its execution, lyric, melody, musicianship....everything! It has been said that this song tackles the issue of sexuality, and Rossiter's supposed ambiguity. I say, bollocks! He's married! Just sit back and enjoy the magnificent thump of a brilliant song played by men who know their worth.
'Sub Rosa' is the final song on the album, and appears to be a simple lullaby at first. Wrong! It builds up into another huge, dramatic crescendo, with strings and brass piled into it. The main tune from 'New Amusements' is also incorporated into the instrumental. The song finishes cryptically with the line 'Who'll know?', which is a very good question indeed. And then it fades away again, just for a moment, until you hit the repeat button on the stereo and continue to luxuriate in the glory of a heart-breaking, unique and anthemic record, one whic defines emotions perfectly and in time will define your life.