Tuesday 11 December 2012

Martin Rossiter - The Defenstration Of St Martin

Album review by KevW

His former band Gene are to many little more than a footnote in the Britpop saga, but realistically they were much more than that. Unfairly dubbed Smiths copyists, mainly due to Martin Rossiter's vocal intonation, they weren't particularly Britpop at all, although the movement undoubtedly helped them break the million sales mark. Largely, Gene were underrated and their split in 2004 was met with a wave of indifference by the public as a whole. After such a long break between the demise of his band and this, his debut solo record, the Welshman has had plenty of time to reflect, and boy is 'The Defenstration Of St Martin' a reflective record. The guitar-pop of Gene's early tracks such as 'Haunted By You' or the much-better-than-you-remember anthems like 'We Could Be Kings' are shunned totally. Rossiter isn't back with a bang and isn't aiming for heavy radio rotation.

Much like his contemporary, Brett Anderson, this album consists of one man and a piano, a recipe for boredom and monotony if ever there was one. But let's not forget that as part of Gene, Rossiter was responsible for some truly stirring ballads like 'For The Dead' and 'Olympian', so it would be wrong to write him off, especially once you've absorbed some of the soul-baring material he's made here. Beginning with the ten-minute 'Three Points On A Compass', this isn't one for the casual listener. The song is a heartbreaking message to a father who deserted him ("the only thing I got from you was my name") and it's genuinely moving. There are lots more personal moments: his soul is offered to the devil ('I Want To Choose When I Sleep Alone'), a chance meeting with another destroyed soul at the top of a cliff that diverts their respective plans to end it all ('Darling Sorrow') and cries for help ('No One Left To Blame').

On 'I Must Be Jesus' the rationale is that the only explanation for the suffering he's going through is that he's been put on earth, as Christ was, to feel pain for humanity's sake. Forget any genuine delusions of grandeur though, it sounds odd on paper but the song is quite emotional. 'My Heart's Designed For Pumping Blood' is a stark hymn to those whose experiences have left them devoid of emotion. Martin Rossiter hasn't chosen to make an album of piano ballads because he can't write pop hits any more, he's written this album seemingly to lift a great weight of his chest, to explore, asses and let go of past demons. So while it may not be full of the joys of spring, 'The Defensation Of St Martin' is a poignant, emotional and deeply private display of emotions that have been allowed out into the open, only it's far less self-righteous than you might expect. This is a carefully considered and masterful piece of work, but you suspect, much like his former band, it's unlikely to be given the credit it truly deserves.

Martin Rossiter's website

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