Gene Loves Jezebel
Giving Up the Ghost
Now this is odd. The last thing you'd expect from Michael Aston and his Gene Loves Jezebel (his brother-up-in-arms Jay concurrently has his own Jezebel) after a pleasant but middle-of-the-road resting on laurels two years previous (Love Lies Bleeding) is a record that adventurously and ambitiously rewinds back to the golden era that birthed them in their original incarnation. Not so much a "return to form" (like its predecessor) as it is a timely and timeless reminder of post-punk's sacred texts like Heaven Up Here, Closer, Dreamtime, and October – all albums whose respective songs maintained their own unique character yet also maintained an artistic consistency throughout record-in-question – Giving Up the Ghost sounds like all those albums at once and separately, an hour-long collection of songs that are as vital as any Gene Loves Jezebel have ever committed to tape; quite adventurous and ambitious, to say the least. I mean, Giving Up the Ghost begins with its ten-minute title track, for crying out loud! Truly, GLJ have hit their stride here, and the 13-minute "Two Boys and a Wheelbarrow" is the most epic and soul-stirring creation they've ever unleashed (those of you who might get bored after two minutes are really missing out). Michael even musters up a plaintive pop tribute to Nico on "Nico Superstar"; along with The Cult on Beyond Good and Evil's "Nico," this is the second tribute-in-song to her this year by recovering goth-rockers. Along the way, things get a bit thorny due to Michael's, um, "eccentricities": "Phreque" has an undeniably silly chorus (pronounce the title, and you’ll get it), "Sly Old Fox" is shameless yet somehow enjoyable post-Duran Duran Sunset Strip funk, "Push" is sufficiently coked-out mutant disco, and the narrative album closer, "Limey"… well, you’ve just gotta hear it. All told, though, these eccentricities give Giving Up the Ghost that much more (frazzled) character and imbue it with a schizophrenia that's much welcomed when it's this harnessed. Dunno how (or why) they did it, but this is Gene Loves Jezebel's finest moment, bar none – Giving Up the Ghost, then? Hardly.
Triple X Records, PO Box 862529, Los Angeles, CA 90086-2529; http://www.triple-x.com, http://www.genelovesjezebel.net, http://www.genelovesjezebel.org
Nathan T. Birk