Dive into Dance Underwater and it’s immediately obvious that Jay Aston and co. have resisted the temptation to drown in nostalgia. That’s not to say that the first Gene Loves Jezebel studio album in 14 years is awash with originality – somehow this most underrated pop rock combo have struck the perfect balance between the new and the old to create the unlikely soundtrack to your summer. This is a joyous celebration of intuitive songwriting and seriously addictive melody.
Opener Charmed Life (Never Give In) might drift dangerously close to the Pet Shop Boys before evening out into It Bites meets Hogarth-era Marillion but don’t allow one of Dance Underwater’s more mellow moments to detract from the overall power of a pulsating album.
The funky pop rock of IZITME is simply sublime while the bright and breezy Summertime offers a sparkling snapshot of the sense of freedom underpinning a sonically ambitious body of work.
It’s no criticism to suggest Cry 4 U leans on the same uplifting vibe at the heart of The New Radicals’ You Get What You Give and there’s a whiff of The Stone Roses on the trippy World Gone Crazy. This may be a record that’s more pop than rock but try telling that to James Stevenson as he rips through a succession of fuzzed-up riffs and soaring solos.
Gene Loves Jezebel always defied convention and it’s comforting to realise some things never change. Set close I Don’t Wanna Dance Underwater may well be the most beautiful song you’ll hear all year. Honestly.