Gene/Drawn To The Deep End

Drawn to the Deep EndGene were an English alternative rock quartet that rose to prominence in the mid 1990s. Formed in 1993, they were popularly labelled as a Britpop band and often drew comparisons to The Smiths because of their Morrissey-esque lead singer, Martin Rossiter. Gene’s music was influenced by The Jam, The Small Faces, The Style Council and The Clash.

In anticipation of their second studio LP, October 1996 saw the release of ‘Fighting Fit’, an up-tempo rock song which reached number 22. The start of 1997 heralded the release of ‘We Could Be Kings’, another epic rock song which again proved to be very popular, reaching number 18. The LP Drawn to The Deep End takes its name from a ‘Fighting Fit’ B-side, and it revealed a lavish production replete with strings, far more prominent guitar solos from Mason, and a rather warbling vocal affectation from Rossiter. The album showed some measure of musical development from the band, which was reflected by the inclusion of a keyboardist in their live shows (Grand Drive’s Julian Wilson [1996-98, 2004], former Style Council keyboardist Mick Talbot [1999-2001], Marcus Brown [2001], and Angie Pollack [2003-2004]), and the fact that Rossiter was starting to master the art of singing live whilst playing the keyboard for some songs. Lyrically speaking, the dominating themes of the album were loneliness and deep yearning. Indeed, Rossiter was in the depths of depression during the making of the album and the songs resulting from this period remain some of the band’s most powerful work. Drawn to the Deep End was another critical success, with Q magazine awarding it four stars. Like its predecessor, the album entered the top 10 of the album charts, and subsequent singles, ‘Where Are They Now?’ and ‘Speak to me Someone’ both made the top 40, at 22 and 30 respectively. [Wikipedia]

New Amusements—-Beginning with a rather somber and subtle drum, the guitars are slow to enter the song…when they do make an entrance, the sound is gentle as well…for a moment or three. The vocal begins in an odd removed kind of way and very slowly…like a spring flower, the song begins to open up and make a real appearance. When the song finally becomes proper, the result is nothing less than marvelous. Rossiter drops all of his Morrissey leanings and enters the song with his own, albeit, predictable tone. The result is marvelous…when the chorus kicks in you are hooked….This remains….magnificent!!!

Fighting Fit—-With a nice gentle introduction, the song takes a minute to get started..but when it does the British guitars are muscular and the vocal belongs to Martin alone. This is so damn catchy and full of hooks you wonder why this was not much bigger than it was. The Morrissey comparisons are far gone as Rossiter has become his own man and the result is fabulous. This is a huge, beefed up Gene that delivers a chorus that is so damn contagious you will wonder why it has been 5 years since you treated your ears to this magnificent spectacle….fantastic!!!

Where Are They Now?—-This is a ballad from the onset that is resplendent with the classic sound of Gene…the intro is quiet and gentle and the song builds and builds until you are left with this huge emotional song that makes you want to jump up and down with joy. This was for a time…my favorite band in the universe.

Speak To Me Someone—-The barren vocal begins with the first gentle musical note….Rossiter delivers a heartfelt, sometimes wrenching vocal that is full of every emotional word you can think of. This is literally brilliant…my heart aches and I have hope that someone actually feels worse than I do. The song has these great ebbs and flows that are genius…designed to keep your attention, I’m sure, the song delivers 100 fold. Marvelous. When Martin really lets loose with his vocal you will be tempted to weep…this is muscular and full of raw feelings that border between madness and joy.

We Could Be Kings—-Beginning with a rather American introduction, that is quickly washed away with the intro of the accented vocal of Rossiter. This is Brit-pop at it’s finest…that nice layered feel that builds and builds on a particular sound…the ebb and flow of the delivery and the magnificent climax as the song becomes literally huge in your ears. This is almost GENIUS….I mourn the loss of this band…..where are they now?????

Why Was I Born?—-A pretty generic question that we all ask ourselves on a regular basis…right? Maybe it is just me!!! Merging wonderfully from the previous song, this is rather sedate and makes me feel old…I never questioned my existence until at leat 30…..25…jeez!!! This is magnificent….the entire track is full of comprehendable feelings and questions that everyone on this earth can relate to…to me…a highpoint of this CD. Wonderful.

Long Sleeves For the Summer—-With a nice gentle introduction, you at once wonder how this song will end up…if you know this band at all! The guitar intro is almost Spanish styled acoustic renderings that set the mood and whet your taste buds for the entrance of the vocal. The voice enters the scene and makes you melt…the emotion and the fragility is better than anything The King [Morrissey] has conjured up in years. This is magnificent…the song builds and builds until you again feel the urge to spin in circles until you are dizzy…falling into a joyful heap on the floor. I could not ask for more!!!

Save Me, I’m Yours—-The sound of this track is almost predictable…the gentle introduction that you are sure is going to grow into something magnificent. Martin sounds more fragile than ever and you weep with his ability to read your mind and make your emotions public. The strong lead guitar makes an impression on meĀ almost immediately, as does the gentle vocal that is resplendent in bare human emotions written in perfect prose. This is wonderful.

Voice Of The Father—-This is incredibly, surprisingly beefy and full of rather aggressive guitars and drums that almost threaten to drown out the vocal completely. The voice is raised somewhat by the 4th bar…becoming clearer, but the star of this song is the band and the proof that they have the ability to really let loose and leave the Brit-pop signature behind. Wow!!!

The Accidental—-Beginning with a much deeper sound, the bass and odd sound effects set the mood for the song. This is magnificent…Martin enters sounding even more sedate and somber than ever. The song is driven by the shimmering lead and the heavier than usual bass sound. The vocal remains gentle and morose for quite sometime as Rossiter vocalized the many feelings that so many of us harbor but are ashamed to vocalize….the entrance of the female vocal is a surprise but is a welcome distraction…this is marvelous….

I Love You, What Are You?—-Beginning like your predictable Gene track, this opens up rather brilliantly with lush musical sounds and remarkable vocals. The edge of the emotion is undenable…you have no possible way of ignoring this…..this is brilliance and one of the last genius songs made by this phenomenal bands.

Sub Rosa—-With a remarkable sedate intro, the vocal is left almost bare…that is how sparse the guitars are. You feel the hair raing on the back of your neck as Rossiter sings you to sleep in a wonderful serene manner…the end was so near and we never had any idea. This is a remarkable end to a release that marked the end to a brief yet brilliant career.

**** 3/4 out of 5


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