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Album Review

VII is often slighted among Gene Loves Jezebel followers because it strays from the group's '80s hybrid of goth and glam. But VII is a Gene Loves Jezebel album in name only, as Jay Aston's twin brother Michael is nowhere to be found. Nothing on VII is as dark as "Screaming for Emmalene/Scheming" or as bouncy as "The Motion of Love," so fans of pre- and post-Discover Gene Loves Jezebel might be a little alienated. The band can't even be labeled goth anymore — not even close. However, taken on its own, VII is a welcome comeback from a group that seemed lost after 1987's The House of Dolls. The inconsistencies of 1989's Kiss of Life and 1993's Heavenly Bodies can now be forgiven. VII has the sound and spirit of an artist who has matured and become more introspective. The party's over, and mellow, melodic songs such as "When We Were One" and "Heroine" are about as far from Gene Loves Jezebel's dancefloor hits "Desire" and "Heartache" as they can get. The pretty balladry of the Verve seems to be an inspiration, and Bob Dylan as well. Aston obviously wants to be taken seriously; after all, Gene Loves Jezebel was once seen as new wave's equivalent of a hair band — flash and no substance. Fortunately, VII avoids being bland because of the catchy lyrics and engaging guitar work, especially the Cure-like ringing riffs of "Who Wants to Go to Heaven?" and the chiming notes of "Love Keeps Dragging Me Down." Odd to hear such a subtle record from a group that used to be so flamboyant, but VII proves that adulthood doesn't have to be dull. Like Echo & the Bunnymen's late-'90s discography, VII shows how a '80s post-punk icon can age gracefully.


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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VII, Gene Loves Jezebel
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