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Album Review

As Good as It Gets: The Best of Gene compiles tracks off the three studio albums Brit-rock band Gene released starting with their stellar 1995 debut, Olympian, and ending with 1999's Revelations. As such, it works nicely as a roundup of the best of what they put out before 2002's Libertine — largely considered a return to form after an extended commercial and creative slump. Suffering justified comparisons to the Smiths from their inception, Gene however always managed to rock with a bit more grandeur and classicism than the boys from Manchester. Despite lead singer Martin Rossiter's penchant for lovelorn warbling and Morrissey-like lyrics that often address loneliness and alienation, he is easily a more accomplished vocalist than his idol. Similarly, Steve Mason's slabs of arpeggiated guitar harmony call to mind Queen's Brian May as much as Johnny Marr. That said, Gene's albums can be spotty and the band never quite reached the same level of popularity or cultural importance enjoyed by the Smiths. All of which makes As Good as It Gets a great introduction to some of the most criminally overlooked pop to come out of England since the Action called it quits. Gene's strengths lie in devastatingly emotional lyrics paired with infectious singalong melodies and huge guitar hooks, all evident here on tracks including "Sleep Well Tonight," "We Could Be Kings," and "I Can't Help Myself." On the downside, longtime fans may be dissapointed at the omission of some other solid album tracks like "Save Me, I'm Yours and the inclusion of a cover of the Jam's "Town Called Malice" which, while good, only serves to distract from what makes Gene great on its own. Ultimately, Olympian is the ideal place to experience the "best" of what Gene have to offer, but for curious listeners who don't want to wade through the albums, As Good as it Gets is just that.


Formed: 1993 in England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Gene will forever be haunted by comparisons to the Smiths, especially since lead singer Martin Rossiter favors the same strangled croon and tortured loneliness of Morrissey. Nevertheless, under the direction of guitarist Steve Mason, Gene developed a tougher sound than the Smiths, drawing not only from the fey tradition of British indie-pop, but also from the three-chord raunch of the Faces, the working-class punk of the Jam and the soulful stomp of Motown. Most critic s didn't hear such subtle differences,...
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As Good As It Gets - The Best of Gene, Gene
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