Picks and Pans Review: Drawn to the Deep End
This British quartet's 1995 debut, Olympian, earned it a prime spot on the short list of Smiths-inspired bands likely to succeed on the strength of unique musical charisma. Gene seems intent on fulfilling that early promise on its second album's one-two opening punch: "New Amusements" vacillates between dreamy and brash in a most intoxicating manner, while the cathartic "Fighting Fit" sounds like the band is having one.
But just when Drawn to the Deep End has got you all revved up and ready to rock, it goes way over the deep end with mopey melodies and navel-gazing babble like "I'm incapable of breathing/Incapable of love."
While the guys remain adept musicians—singer Martin Rossiter's mournful piano passages and Steve Mason's lonesome-sounding guitar set an elegantly blue mood—one starts to wish Rossiter would ease up on the poor-poor-pitiful-me routine.
The Smiths' Morrissey may have worn his despair like a virtue in his laments, but at least he knows a thing or two about comic relief. When Rossiter sings "Never alive until twenty-five" on the lethargic "Why I Was Born," one suspects that in the back of his mind he's thinking, "And probably dead by thirty." (Polydor)
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