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Immigrant

Gene Loves Jezebel

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Album Review

With their second album, the Astons had the advantage of both a stabilizing band lineup (Rizzo had joined on bass) and one of the best producers around, John Leckie. The English mastermind's sharp ear for bringing bands up to newer levels proved the case here, slightly streamlining the wild sound of Promise while sacrificing none of the group's edgy weirdness. The Astons themselves whipped up a series of more focused rockers, letting the hooks show through a bit more strongly. The opening "Always a Flame" conclusively demonstrates how well the new combination worked. Buried drums, echoed guitar, and soft cries suddenly transform into a blasting romance number; the rhythm section work easily rivals that of any other early '80s post-punkers, while the almost mandolin-like arrangements on the chorus are a lovely touch. Add in the Astons' passionate lyrics to a missing love and the glammy rush of the song, and Immigrant is off and running. Like Promise, variety is part of the album's appeal, ranging from the slow punch and chanting of "Stephen" to the giddy blasts of "Worth Waiting For" (with an intentionally hilarious spoken-word break in the middle) and "Cow," Immigrant's underrated highlight. When at their most mystic and tribal, the Astons nail it more often than not; the title track connects especially well, sounding like Echo and the Bunnymen's slightly more florid cousin with an especially catchy chorus. The group isn't afraid to let humor sneak through in other areas, as they prove in naming the last three songs "The Rhino Plasty," "Deep South Wale," and "Coal Porter." That final tune is especially good, a lovedrunk remembrance of the past with evocative imagery and a lovely arrangement; its soft percussion and electric guitar are carefully filled out with piano and backing vocals.

Biography

Formed: 1981 in Porthcawl, Wales

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston began playing music in 1980 when they formed Slav Arian with guitarist Ian Hudson and a drum machine. Though the Astons grew up in Porthcawl, South Wales, they moved to London in 1981 and renamed the goth-influenced group Gene Loves Jezebel. The trio played several live shows and were quickly signed by Situation 2. In May 1982, the label released Gene Loves Jezebel's demo single, "Shavin' My Neck." The band then added bassist Julianne Regan and drummer Dick Hawkins....
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