GENE LOVES JEZEBEL feat. Jay Aston – X – Love Death Sorrow

Cleopatra 2023

Going for goth grandeur, Old-World contingent of glamorous new wave advocates reach out for old-school genes.

feat. Jay Aston –
X – Love Death Sorrow

Perhaps, no other music genre was locked in its space in time as firmly as shoegaze – only, for all their post-punk genesis, this ensemble never felt too comfortable being conscribed to a particular stylistic frame, and the sophomore studio album by Jay Aston’s faction of Welsh veterans is a great proof of such a point. If the “X” in the platter’s title may indicate a chromosome common to both female and male genders of our species, “Love Death Sorrow” should mean an array of life markers we all also share, which can explain the record’s mélange of originals and covers that create a perfect flow of gloomy delights. Most of them are familiar to the Aston brothers’ aficionados – a few debuted as part of the “Ugly Buggs” project masterminded by Jay with Peter Bugg back in 2011, while borrowed numbers haunt radio waves rather often – yet to hear them congeal into a single context feels gratifying enough to seem almost revelatory, especially when the tunes don’t lend themselves to instant acknowledgment.

Of course, it’s difficult not to latch onto the dark finale of THE ONLY ONES’ classic “Another Girl, Another Planet” or the twangy “A Girl Like You” placed in the misty middle of the album to contrast the mesmeric wonder of Aston’s long-gestating ballad “I Breathe Easy” and of the freshly composed “The Foolish Young” which bookend Edwyn Collins’ evergreen; but, in a similar way, Jay’s valiant reading of MAGAZINE’s “The Light Pours Out Of Me” can’t overshadow the menacing catchiness of his own “Serpent Queen” or the dim throb of “The Man That Time Forgot” that opens the platter. As James Stevenson’s effervescent guitar and Peter Walsh’s scintillating synthesizers bounce off Buggs’ dancing bass and Smiley’s disco-driven drums, the singer’s pipes stack up lead and backing vocals in precariously tilting decks to keep the listener on their toes, and inform Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English” with decadently pulsing electric opulence, whereas the black velvet THE CURE’s “In Between Days” gets drenched in chamber strings. Still, the piano-splashed “Young Girl” finds the band energized, and the majestically fragile, first molasses-slow and then robust and upbeat, “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” captures them in an even more defiant form, before “Lone Rider” adds a rock twist to the record’s course.

An unexpected guilty pleasure, “X” marks the spot indeed.


March 14, 2024

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