on 26 November 2001
I doubt that Gene will ever surpass the brilliance of their second album, "Drawn to the Deep End." But "Libertine" comes close.
I don't hear the Smiths influence so much anymore (which is good), but I do hear a more mature, polished sound, with string quartets embellishing the mood when need be. Similarly, Martin doesn't scream at the top of his lungs anymore (again, which is good), yet songs like "Walking in the Shallows" tell you that these guys can still rock out. And Martin's lyrics are brilliant in describing the agony of lost love.
I'm a rarity -- a Gene fan in America. Most people here have never heard of Gene. Same for Suede and Pulp, unfortunately. But I'll go to my death convinced that British rock beats American rock anyday, and Gene are still great purveyors of my favorite type of music. Let's hope they keep going for awhile.
on 29 September 2001
Despite their penchant for classy, swaggering tunes and elegant, tear-stained ballads, Gene
have never risen above cult status.
Libertine is a 'make it or break it' album for Martin Rossiter and his cohorts.
It's their first studio outing since 1999's Revelations, a record which met with, undeservedly, lukewarm reviews.
So will this new album condemn the band to indie obscurity or lead them onwards and upwards?
Well, the good news is that Libertine is a fine record,which sees the band jettisoning the Smiths comparisons which have dogged their career from day one, and heading into brave, new territories.
At times, Libertine is brooding, sultry and saucy, with many of the tracks built around slinky bass grooves.These fey, white boys have decided to get sexy on us. . .
We'll Get What We Deserve is on a reggae tip (!), the gorgeous You is tinged with '60s soul, and Let Me Rest nods its head in the direction of disco, ending in a crazed Hammond and guitar freak-out!
Libertine is also much darker than its predecessor.
Opener Does He Have A Name? is a moody, slow-burning epic, scored with velvety strings, A Simple Request is funky, country noire, riddled with mean slide guitar, and Is It Over is a piano-led weepie of anthemic, Elton John proportions.
Rest assured,though, there are plenty of classic, old skool Gene moments on offer.
Oh Lover sets the unpleasant subject matter of wife beating to a pretty, soulful tune, laced with warm organ chords and Steve Mason's delicate guitar textures, whilst Walking In The Shallows and Yours For The Taking are sprightly, feisty rockers, which will go down a storm in the band's live set.
Even those of you with the hardest of hearts will be unable to resist the closing Somewhere In The World - a poignant, simple lullaby to lost love.
Rumours of Gene's death have been greatly exaggerated - on the evidence of Libertine, they're still fighting fit and able.
on 5 November 2001
Gene have come up with a more sophisticated sound without losing their unique identity. The switch in record labels seems to have paid off with a recording of excellent quality, which is why it's a pity that Libertine doesn't include the brilliant 'Rising for Sunset'. Nevertheless the boys go from strength to strength and without a weak track on it, Libertine may even be their best yet. Keep em coming lads!
on 5 December 2001
Deemed by many to have 'gone away', Gene show that although the music press may go quiet on you for a while, it doesn't mean that you're not preparing a gem of a new album all along. And that 's exactly what 'Libertine' is - a darker, less guitar orientated collection of tunes than previous records that is driven primarily by the bass and drums and which, after several listens, infects the very brain of the listener. Top tracks - the seedy opener (and up coming single) 'Does He Have A Name?', and the brooding, explosive-chorused 'Spy In The Clubs'. If you've never bought any Gene records before, treat yourself today to Libertine. If you have bought Gene before, buy several copies of it.
on 1 December 2001
With this, Gene's fourth album, they provide those who still care about brit-pop a beautiful more mature sound than previously. The way they weave the polyphony of instruments is seamless, with the incredible voice of Martin. They seem to know how to create great coruses which hit home if you love beautiful meaningful music. Why can't more bands be like these guys. I am from the heartland of America, and see a need for Gene and other UK bands in the US. This band rocks when it's necessary and slows down when it's necessary..perfect.
Can it really be 20 years already? 20 years since Gene rose to promenence, with "For The Dead", and 10 since they quietly disappeared, mourned by a handful, and forgotten by many? At one point they could have been kings. Now, overlooked and ignored by Megador Records, the band have quietly faded from view to day jobs and memories. In time, the bands work - an elegant body that combined the majesty of The Smiths with the muscular strength of The Faces and 60's era Mod bands, has aged with dignity and power. Over four albums, and catch all b-sides compilation "To See The Lights", the band explored humanity with increasing effectiveness and skill. By the time they got to the final record, the barely noticed "Libertine" they had become brilliant but niche hasbeens. This reissue series finally gives the band the dignity they deserve, with expanded editions of each record, appended with every b-side, an enormity of radio sessions (almost every single one the band recorded for the BBC,), and several live shows from the period, showcasing embryonic and early versions of many songs from subsequent albums - are a fascinating insight. In terms of unreleased material, there is little until the time the band were released from their Polydor contract, at which point the band had control of their own recordings. Each of the editions is packed in a double CD set, with the original album appended by b-sides and extra songs.
Final record in the reissues is 2001's neglected "Libertine", self-funded, confident but audibly smaller, the band moved to a more intimate lyrical plain, with songs such as "Does He Have A Name?", "Is It Over", and the frankly amazing "Somewhere In The World" being amongst the best by any band, ever, anywhere, laden down the lyrics as powerful as nuclear weapons, exploring jealously, love, loss, and being left behind with an accuracy only the once heart-broken will ever recognise. In terms of unreleased material, there is little until the time the band were released from their Polydor contract, at which point the band had control of their own recordings, and thus "Libertine" is awash with the b-sides of two singles, an extra handful of songs that the band included in foreign editions of the record, and numerous demos and unreleased songs. (Sadly, the rather unusual cover version of "Back For Good" is absent, but easily available elsewhere). Since two full live shows from the era were released on DVD, it is understandable that no live material is on this release, instead favouring a plethora of unreleased material, with around 13 demos and unreleased songs as well as 10 or so absent from the original record, including the final single, the wonderful, and graceful "Let Me Move On", that proved that even with their dying breath, Gene had more wit in one verse than other bands had in their lifetime. Is it over?
To be honest, there's little more a fan could expect given the circumstances, and the limited commercial interest and profile this band currently has, and whilst it is a musical loss that Gene were not blessed with a 30 year journey similar to obvious contenders of sometimes lesser skill but wider appeal. Sadly, for now, it is over, but at least we had this once.
on 4 March 2014
Gene's last album, Libertine... and they really were liberated, free from Polydor - this was recorded on their own label, at their own pace and in their own style. The result, I think, is the band's finest achievement, and one of the great undiscovered albums of the 21st Century. Yes, I know that is high praise - it surprises me too, because I remember not being bowled over when it was first released. Back then, I wanted them to still be the Gene of Olympian... I struggled to let them move on. Seems I wasn't the only one either - despite great reviews, Libertine struggled at the time too, and floundered without Polydor's promotional muscle. However, like Drawn To The Deep End before it, the band's swansong stands as a wonderfully cohesive piece of work, a fact not lessened by the re-issue embellishment it gets here. Does He Have A Name? contains, in my view, Rossiter's finest Gene lyric. The achingly sad Is It Over? seems terribly prescient too, for the band, whilst delighted with Libertine, would soon all know that the writing was on the wall. A shame for all concerned, because tracks like Somewhere In The World demonstrated that, even though they had changed, Gene were still at the peak of their powers. What's left, in Libertine, is an album that has aged well, and is perhaps more in tune with the ears and tastes of Gene fans now those fans are all 10+ years older. Also, somewhat brilliantly, Libertine's bonus materials are the richest of all: in addition to mopping up the B-sides of the era, there are some comparatively rare tracks (studio versions of Baby I'm Sorry and the excellent Rising For Sunset, plus lots and lots of demo versions. If you judge re-issues on the merits of their bonus materials, this is the one to buy first. What's more, it's the only one available on vinyl (the band, rather than Polydor, own the recording, so all avenues were open with Libertine).
on 24 December 2003
From the heartbreaking "Is It Over?" to the ambiguous joy of "Walking in the Shallows", Libertine is an emotional journey through the contradictory feelings that arise from the breakup of a relationship. Musically, Gene move away from the guitar orientated sound of previous albums to a more flexible soulful sound. This is Gene's greatest album to date, and suggests that the success they rightly deserve may soon be theirs.
on 5 May 2016
Excellent. Much underrated band.