Review: Gen and the Degenerates – ‘Only Alive When In Motion’ EP

This time next week, Liverpool-based five-piece Gen and the Degenerates will be gearing up to make the journey to Nottingham to join up with Skunk Anansie on the first date of the iconic band’s 14-date 25th anniversary UK tour. A match-up that makes such perfect sense. Who better to open for a band that for decades has defied being pigeonholed into a specific genre, than a hot, fresh, young act who also defies pigeonholing? The only thing that could make the tour even more special would be if Hazel O’Connor was well enough to introduce both bands. O’Connor, and Skin from Skunk Anansie; two trailblazing artists capable of exuding sheer ferocity and fierceness at the same time as breaking your heart with their sense of fragility. Remake the stunning ‘Breaking Glass’ movie today and Skin would play the Hazel O’Connor role, and if she was not available then the next perfect candidate would be Gen Degenerate. A performer who not only possesses all the qualities of both O’Connor and Skin but demands your attention from the off…as does the band themselves.

Debut EP ‘Only Alive When In Motion’ is the perfect introduction to a band that is not-so-quietly going about their business and building up quite a reputation as a fiery live act not to be missed. There is so much going on throughout the five tracks that make up the EP that if you need to compartmentalise the music that you listen to, then you will struggle with Gen and the Degenerates. Describing it as “eclectic” somehow doesn’t do it justice, maybe go with “expect the unexpected”, or just say “fuck it” and simply enjoy the music on offer. Opening track ‘Crying War’, for instance, begins like a country-tinged torch song performed by Amy Winehouse before it explodes to life with a wall of fuzzy guitars and vocal hooks to-die-for, and the end result (especially from 01:30 minutes in) might just be what Queen of country music Carrie Underwood sounds like when no-one from the Nashville hierarchy is watching. In other words; pretty fucking gnarly. And catchy. Catchy as hell. At times ‘Adore Me’ is almost as if it’s fuelled by glam rock, that drumbeat might often be credited as originating from Patrick Carney of the Black Keys but look a bit further back to the glam session musicians of the 70s and you’ve struck gold. Gen’s vocals are the star of the show (closely followed by some fizzing guitar work) and the poppier side really shines through.

‘Girl God Gun’ is the foundation upon which ‘Only Alive When In Motion’ is built, and it lands right in the middle of the EP for that very reason. The kind of track that mainstream BBC Radio really needs to get behind as it has everything going for it. Almost spoken-word like vocals from Gen in places, hypnotic percussion, big-ass basslines, and lyrics that really pop out thanks to Gen’s crystal clear enunciation. Lots’s going on in the background during this one, best enjoyed through a decent pair of cans as you really do find something new about it with every listen. ‘Wild Thing’ is tailor-made for some audience participation, and it’s easy to imagine the crowd bouncing along with the band throughout, especially as the tempo increases towards the end. It’s poppy but not too saccharin-filled and would work just as well if a more mainstream artist such as Charli XCX covered it as it also would if more of an established rock artist like Taylor Momsen took it on. Then maybe Gen and the Degenerates would be bathing in dollar bills.

Ending with more of a modern alt-rock sound on ‘Burn Your Pedestals’ (Jesus, the guitars are alive on this one, and the wall of feedback at 02:30 minutes is ear-splitting), ‘Only Alive When In Motion’ is chockful of bangers that leave their mark in different ways. As close to capturing the raw energy of a Gen and the Degenerates gig as humanly possible without actually being there. But if you want to check the band out in the flesh, catch them on one of the dates listed below.

Available now on Marshall Records, more information here.

Review – Dave

Skunk Anansie 25 Years Tour w/ Gen and the Degenerates:

07/04/2022 – Nottingham, Rock City (SOLD OUT)
08/04/2022 – Manchester, O2 Victoria Warehouse
09/04/2022 – Brighton, Dome (SOLD OUT)
11/04/2022 – Cardiff, University Great Hall (SOLD OUT)
12/04/2022 – Bristol, O2 Academy (SOLD OUT)
14/04/2022 – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
15/04/2022 – Folkestone, Leads Cliff Hall (SOLD OUT)
16/04/2022 – Guildford, G Live
18/04/2022 – Leicester, O2 Academy
19/04/2022 – Lincoln, The Engine Shed
22/04/2022 – Birmingham, O2 Academy
23/04/2022 – Sheffield, O2 Academy
26/04/2022 – Glasgow, O2 Academy
27/04/2022 – Leeds, O2 Academy

Photo: Derek Brewer

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