Leisure Noise
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Gay Dad is a great name, contemporary and cheeky, a real scene setter. But Gay Dad's ringleader Cliff Jones is still an object of suspicion: it's not just that he has a way with provocative band names but that the words "music journalist" have previously appeared in his passport. Here's a guy not only with expert knowledge, but also expert contacts. How else could Gay Dad have come this far, this soon?

The hype has ensured that Gay Dad's debut album Leisurenoise hits the ground running, accelerated by the Top Ten success of debut single To Earth With Love (Jones writes great songtitles, too). The single and its follow-up, Joy, confirm Jones is on to something: both sound like they've been assembled from an Anatomy Of A Rock Song textbook but that can't disguise their hooks and dynamic savvy. Gay Dad are definitely "Britrock" rather than "Britpop". Jones keeps namedropping Freddie Mercury yet Gay Dad are closer to Manic Street Preachers (dense sound, pithy slogans) and Mansun (accessible bombast), with aural varnish from producer

Chris Hughes, whose CV includes Tears For Fears. They've got their soft side, too: the sleekly gliding Dimstar and the mellow-soulful Black Ghost, where Jones pulls off an audacious falsetto.

But doubts creep in over the course of a whole album, mostly when Jones puts his foot on the gas. The way Pathfinder echoes American 70s AOR "legends" Styx and Kansas may be clever, and even a heartfelt gesture f rom a man who clearly loves goofy rock posturing (5 la Mercury) but it sounds lumpen in reality. The same goes for Dateline's stab at Aerosmith rock boogie, with parody lyrics to match ("high up in the hills/they were nodding out on pills and booze"). It's time to wield that abusive term "Dadrock" (usually reserved for Paul Weller's clan). Jones isn't helped by his lack of a great voice, relying on phrasing for maximum cleverness. Essentially, he's not a natural - but then anyone who releases their first album at the age of 28 clearly hasn't leapt to the task.

Jones has roughly a tenth of that time to write Gay Dad's next two albums. By then, he might have revealed more about his personality and emotions than his 10. Right now, at a concise ten tracks, Leisurenoise is the perfect introduction to Gay Dad, and Jones should take comfort in how far another ex-music journalist managed to fly - namely Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys. Maybe Gay Dad will have the last word.

Martin Aston.

Heat Magazine

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