CD Review

Michael Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel - "Love Lies Bleeding"

By Marcus Pan

Love Lies BleedingIt's just around 20 years now since an art student asked the fated question, "Did Gene love Jezebel?" Michael and Jay Aston snatched up the quote and ran with it to create one of the UKs most well known goth/pop favorites. And then came the split, when Michael and Jay went their separate ways - each carrying with them the name Gene Loves Jezebel to add to our confusion - which is why it is important to note the "Michael Aston's" portion of the band name.

Michael brings a new troupe of players to the studio for Triple X Records. They are Slobo Svrdlan (bass), Michael Ciravolo (guitars) and Michael Brahm (drums). Others in the troupe help out with the occasional song. Starting fresh and stepping back Michael delivers a more introspective and brooding Gene Loves Jezebel that what we remember from the past. Love Lies Bleeding is a great accomplishment. Don't let the boyish looks and charm of Michael Aston dissuade you - he has plenty to say, the experiences to support it and the wisdom to uphold it all.

Love Lies Bleeding indeed has an older, guitar pop flair. But it heads off in a more artistic direction than before, being somewhat of a combination of the old ways and his more recent solo works such as Why Me, Why This, Why Now. Michael's lyrics have a quick-writ, poetic quality, seemingly penned down not first as songs but as poems of life, religion, beliefs. The album has a very biblical feel and quality to it, leant by the artwork, lyrics and questions raised throughout. The lyrics of Love Lies Bleeding are harder edged. Sung in Michael's higher vocal style they may not seem as cutting as when read. Read them all to appreciate the qualities therein.

Michael AstonOne of the most memorable and enjoyable tracks on the album is, laughingly enough, one I disagree with. Who Will Survive You is a pro-life piece with catchy rhythms and high-pitched guitar arrangements. It's quite well done and Bowie-esque in its delivery. Speaking to young mothers considering choosing abortion as a means to an end, Michael laments, "Who will survive you? Who will survive your choice?" It is a well-done song, even if we don't see eye to eye on the moral argument.

Like another UK act that comes to mind, Killing Miranda, MA's GLJ refuses to play down their beliefs. Taking a risk with what Michael believes is right in his mind, he will put it down to lyrics and guitar as whole heartedly and without waffling. And here writing this is a reviewer who disagrees with one of their foremost songs - but I can appreciate the merits of a discussion without agreement. If anything has come close to making me check myself and my own beliefs, Who Will Survive You has done that. And considering my charms as a cynical and stubborn bastard, that's saying quite a bit.

The album opens with the line, "Rushing out the door." Love Lies Bleeding (the song) is similar in tone and arrangement style of Who Will Survive You but Michael's vocals are a bit stronger and with a deeper morbidity. A well-written tale of broken love is Love Lies Bleeding; "No more my fault than yours." Another favorite of mine is the near-80s pop-guitar style of Loving You Is The Best Revenge. What makes this song so much fun is the way it has an enrapturing rhythm and upbeat sound. Yet the subject matter is a study in the cruelty of passion and subtle backward psychotherapy.

Michael Aston has surely taken a much different path than the other GLJ camp of twin brother Jay. A more experimental and artistic quality is explored here. Some of the lyrics of some songs may get a little repetitive, but the monotony is drowned by the flowing and usually faster-paced rhythms and excellent arrangement. And you have to expect a little repetition in the poetic writing style Michael uses. One of the best examples I've seen of poetry-to-pop in quite some time, Love Lies Bleeding is indeed an accomplishment worthy of the Gene Loves Jezebel name, and comes to us following a long period of confusion, closings (i.e. previous band start-ups Edith Grove & The Immigrants) and even label bankruptcies. Hopefully there won't be much in the way of Michael and his new players this time. Here's hoping they hang about a bit before rushing back out that door.

Contact Information:
Post: Triple X Records, Box 862529, Los Angeles, CA, 90086-2529

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