Gene - Libertine

Someone must be looking down on Gene and guiding them on their way. For a band who cruelly were culled from Polydors roster at the tail end of the whole Britpop fiasco there really is a sense of optimism around one of Britain's most under-rated acts. The sheer display of affection at last months Leeds Festival was enough to warm the coldest of hearts and for all the press cynicism the good will certainly out. Which is really why "Libertine" is such a shock to the senses - violent relationships ("Oh Lover"), marital affairs ("Does He Have A Name?"), suicide  ("Is It Over?") - it could so easily be the makings of another Eminem album if it wasn't cared for and crafted by the hands of a man who knows better.

Comeback single "Is It Over?" is the sort of single Polydor once would have relegated to an album track simply for not being "up" and "poppy" and if anything shows a band prepared to take risks when given the chance to do so. Much improved from its live airing last month its almost as if the band have taken a traditional Gene ballad and mixed it in widescreen 3D super cinema style. Which would go someway to explaining why Irvine Welsh has directed a 15 minute film based around the single.

Thankfully though the real essence of Gene is still very much at the forefront. After all if you write classic songs with lyrics that genuinely touch people why should you have to change it all in the name of progress. Ultimately though "Libertine" has much the same problems as every single Gene album since "Olympian" in the fact that it isn't so much a complete album as a collection of songs. Somehow I very much doubt that Gene will ever record that perfect all time classic album and its a pity because live they really do blow most of 2001 away in oblivion.

Alex McCann