Review Summary: Grown up, elegant and slightly boring.
Upon being dropped by Polydor after the miserable turnout of their third album 'Revelations', Brit-pop also-rans Gene started their own label and released this fourth (and final) album. Like most of the band's past work, the ghost of Morrissey is to be found lurking in every nook and cranny of the record. The band spent the majority of their career trying to deflect such accusations but on 'Libertine' they seem to have thrown their hands up and sighed "so be it." This gives rise to 'Does He Have A Name"' and 'Is It Over"', two excellent but unashamedly Morrissey-esque ballads.
Speaking of ballads, 'Libertine' is chock full of 'em. As well as the aforementioned duo, the album is home to the bluesy 'You', the threadbare 'somewhere in the World' and the domestic violence musings of 'O Lover'. Gene have always been known for their crooning ballads but 'Libertine' pushes the boat out too far into overwrought territory.
There are (thank god) the odd deviations away from balladry. The stately 'We'll Get What We Deserve' brings an interesting reggae element to bear, featuring kettle drums and Bob Marley style keyboards. On the flip side of the same reggae coin, the confused mid album blunder 'Let Me Rest' goes overboard and includes a pretty embarrassing organ solo!
As an afterthought, you also have a slim number of (slightly) more energetic songs. 'Walking in the Shallows' is a bit of stomping, inconsequential fluff. 'Spy in the Clubs', however, is actually pretty impressive and features the album's only true concession to urgency via it's howls of electric distortion.
'Libertine' is a very stately, grown up affair. There is suave sophistication to be had here by the boatload. Unfortunately, excitement is also pretty thin on the ground, which leave this album feeling a bit like a Worthers Original: Nostalgic and comfortable but a wee bit boring.