Drawn to the Deep End (Polydor)
by Katy Shea
From the first moments of Gene‘s Drawn to the Deep End, you drown in a wash of rich orchestration and entrancing melody lines that draw you in and twist you up into lead singer Martin Rossiter’s enchanting world. Punctuated by the simple and gently powerful guitar riffs of Steve Mason, the first track, “New Amusements,” is a definite keeper, setting the tone for an album filled with a bevy of textures and feels from gothic to modern Brit pop, all served up with passion and soul.
The tunes that follow, “Fighting Fit” and “Where are They Now?,” as well as “Speak to Me Someone,” are reminiscent of the Smiths in some aspects, but escape the brutality of such comparisons when you come to realize the original elements of grace and strength that permeate every track. Lilting melodies give way to guitar driven crescendos supported by wonderfully fluid string arrangements and inevitably, Rossiter’s lyrical and vocal strength consistently bringing it all together. Gene are stereotypically English in sentiment, the prevailing themes being loss, love, fear and loneliness (not necessarily in that order). Yet, they overcome the inherent limitations of their own chosen subject matter with original instrumentation (Hammond organ, Mellotron, lap steel, brass sections, etc.) and an unerring talent for crafting melody and sincere emotional expression (sans cheese). The instruments they choose and the extent to which these choices change the feel of the record, rescue them from the depths of whining depression which runs the risk of becoming typical and boring.
Drawn to the Deep End is somewhat of a departure for Gene and serves as definite proof of the band’s versatility and talent. They’ve made misery fun again.