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Album Review

The album that launched Gene Loves Jezebel in America, Discover caught the British band perfectly poised between their post-punk goth past and their arena rock future. The centerpiece was, of course, "Desire," the clarion cry of rock's late-'80s future, all yelps and pervasive riffs strafed by searing leads, and an insistent chorus that defied listeners not to shout along. Initial copies of the U.S. album featured the original single's mix with guitarist Ian Hudson, later ones were graced by an even more powerful version, turned into a sonic roar by producer Peter Walsh, and showcasing the group's new guitarist, James Stevenson. Stevenson's arrival helped set the stage for a serious shift in the band's musical direction, a reinvention of the Jezzie sound into a more rock-friendly, pop-esque style. The two versions of "Desire" illustrate that point to perfection. But at the time of recording, old and new styles, pop and goth, all filtered into the mix, and miraculously were held shimmeringly together. Miraculously, because during the recording, producer Gary Lyons suffered a heart attack, forcing the album to be completed by one of the engineers, Mark Dearnley. Regardless, Discover has a coherent feel, all awash in atmosphere, yet still gives Stevenson's sonic guitar plenty of room to maneuver. His bright riffs and Ronson-esque leads often take center stage, but he was equally willing to add the darker, brooding riffs that were the band's previous trademark, and on "A White Horse" he even pays tribute to the Banshee's signature drone. The highlight of these darkwave delights is "Beyond Doubt," which began life as an instrumental B-side. Stevenson's delicate guitar work imbues the haunting melody with ethereal lightness and paradoxically haunting depth. The yearning lead vocals add to the song's power, while the soaring falsetto backups send shivers down one's spine. In contrast were the brash pop/rock numbers like "Desire," "Heartache," and "Sweetest Thing." This was GLJ at its best, as the band came together in a perfect wedding of all parties, sounds, and styles. Stadium guitar, Bauhausian experimentation, pop and goth all combined to make a truly unforgettable album. [This release of the album contains an additional CD of remixes, extended versions and songs from cassingles.]

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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