Gene play Cambridge Corn Exchange, 19 Feb; Sheffield Octagon, 20 Feb; Glasgow Barrowlands 21 Feb; Middlesbrough Town Hall 22 Feb

Gene vocalist Martin Rossiter has been laying himself on the line recently. Apparently deep, clinical depression engulfed him last year. In the wake of Richey Manic and Kurt Cobain, Rozzer's confessionals can't help but tug at your sympathy, whether you're a fan of Gene's traditionally English tales-from-the-suburbs pop or not. But, thankfully, it is not necessary to be overly polite about their new music.

The second proper Gene long-player - to follow Olympian (1995) and the 1996 singles compilation album To See The Lights - is surprisingly loveable. I say surprisingly because the prevailing mood is markedly different to the recent single "We Could Be Kings", which represented the respectable, if slightly drab, indie rattle Gene have made a career of so far.

Most of the album Drawn To The Deep End, released this week, has an expressive range and sweet gentleness completely at odds with the somewhat braggadocio pop of "We Could Be Kings". Rossiter's voice has never before been as captivatingly earnest as it is on "Why Was I Born?"; he successfully travels through several hues of his depression on songs like "Speak To Me Someone". And the guitars of Steve Mason, and the prevailing arrangements such as on the delicate "Save Me, I'm Yours" carry a great deal more light and shade than in the old days. Like Richey and Cobain, Rossiter has metamorphosed into a forensic scientist of the feelings. The emotional ravages may not be healthy for the soul, but they are good for this album.

Apart from the show at the Royal Albert Hall on 1 March, the Glasgow date (21 Feb) should be the most interesting because support is from Arab Strap, Chemikal Underground's rising stars who deal in spoken word lyrics and cinematic pop.


John Parish and Polly Jean Harvey enter into the risky territory of putting their songs to contemporary dance in this tour, with the help of the Mark Bruce Dance Company. Luckily their album Dance Hall At Louse Point lends itself to plenty of dramatic interpretation.

Newcastle Playhouse 17, 18, 19 Feb; Oxford Playhouse 21 Feb