Jay Ashton channels Duran Duran, turning in a shimmery new release - minus the brotherly love
What is it with brothers in bands? You can spend all your young lives in each other’s pockets, go out climbing trees and riding your bikes together, confiding in each other and taking it in turns to be the best man at each other’s wedding, but the minute one (or God forbid, both) of them picks up a guitar, then it turns into World War III but with more sarcastic Twitter posts.
That’s exactly what’s happened to the Aston twins – the founder members of GLJ. After a few years of getting along just fine, they fell out, formed rival versions of the same band and made a couple of lawyers very rich and happy as a result. Now, you get to choose between two Gene Loves Jezebel’s. Michael Aston helms the US version of the band, while brother Jay fronts the UK based version which has just recorded “Dance Underwater”. I guess being a few thousand miles apart reduces the chances of wedgies, wet willies and lunch money extortion.
“Dance Underwater” sounds pretty much like you’d expect it to sound. Veteran producer Peter Walsh has made it all shimmery and lovely in a “welcome back to 1986” sort of way. All those synth sounds and guitar pedals that were put in the back of the cupboard sometime in the eighties have been dusted off and give the album a kind of nouveau-retro feel. Oh, and GLJ have decided to morph into a less kitsch version of Duran Duran along the way, too. “Charmed Life” and “Summertime” could easily have been tracks on some of DD’s latter-day albums. Sadly, GLJ’s website has no recent pictures of the band on it, so I can’t tell you if the they’re all in shiny silk suits and sporting $400-dollar haircuts at the moment.
“How Do You Say Goodbye to Someone You Love” has a rather venomous lyric which may (or may not…) be aimed at brother Michael. Lots of references to “twisting the knife” and “shame and scorn”, so it’s my guess is that it’ll be a while before they go back on each other’s Christmas card lists. “Flying” uses all the delays, reverbs and chorus pedals in the world to create a rather feline groove which would have packed the floor at the end of the night at an Indie Disco in 1987. It sounds pretty good in 2017, too. “Chase the Sun” proves that the band still have a knack for a strong melody and doesn’t stick to the “pop-goth” template the band seem to have followed until now.
GLJ UK have made a reasonable record. If you were a fan in the eighties, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll like “Dance Underwater”. I’m not sure it makes me want to pop down to the mall and stock up on blusher, hair mousse and eye-liner though. Not yet, anyway. I’d urge the Aston twins to have a fight, hug it out, backcomb their hair and listen to “Discover” loads and loads. Then make the record that “Dance Underwater” should have been.