100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #44 Gene – Olympian

Released: 1995

There is a graveyard somewhere strewn with headstones all marked with the same inscription: “Here lies <insert name of group> who were officially ‘Morrissey’s Favourite Band‘ <Insert month and year>”. Back in the early 90’s this sort of acclaim was still an albatross-like big deal, one he bestowed on Gene, a four piece of battle hardened cookies led by Dionysiac frontman Martin Rossiter.

Gene were in form an almost perfect casting of all of Britpop’s strengths and weaknesses; rousers of rabble extraoradinaire, emotionally insecure, influences worn on sleeves along with broken hearts. Camden’s circle of bitches pegged them as a bundle of energetic, misdirected Moz n’ Marr disciples without shame, but their 1995 debut Olympian was if not redemptory, evidence that their hipster critics weren’t actually listening.

Britpop wasn’t long on ballads either and on the rare occasions it tried the results were either hit (Suede‘s flawless The Wild Ones and erm..Wonderwall) or soul sucking miss (Being Brave, as phoned in by Menswear). Olympian however was Rossiter and co.’s retort to the hedonistic blankness which surrounded them, a track of grace, substance and power, the lofty refrain “I can only be normal with you” maybe a reaction to the performative hell of being twenty five hour party people for fun and not much profit. Morrissey had flitted already by then, but here was proof that, occasionally, flowers grew where he landed.