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The much anticipated first Gay Dad album was produced by ex-Adam And the Ants drummer Merrick and engineered by former 'Bohemian Rhapsody' engineer and Art of Noise maestro Gary Langan. It was originally going to be called 'Heavy Rock Spectacular'.

One of the great things about being a music fan is getting it totally wrong. History is made up of kids who should have been listening to Slade rather than Genesis, acid house instead of House of love and anything instead of Mansun. Even now, isn't there that niggling doubt that there's more to life than the Arab Strap live album?

It's exactly this divide between unaffected thrills and self-consciousness that Gay Dad tackle head-on. Ever since 'To Earth with Love' revealed how Aerosmith rule in Cliff Jones' neighborhood, Gay Dad have mystified and confused. In the wake of such introspective and often unlistenable works as Blurs' '13' and Ultrasound's 'Everything Picture', here are a band dedicated to making brash comic-book rock that's as daft as it glorious. Like that brilliantly logic-defying name, Gay Dad refuse to add up.

A large part of the Dad scheme is, of course, down to Jones himself. Sometimes seemingly modelling himself on idiot-metal icon Nigel Tufnell, Cliff is so unbashed in his mission that part of you wants him to go away and write an introspective millennial crisis album like everyone else. But no. Gay Dad have crossed the international taste line, revelling in the kind of shameless bravado and self-promotion that should have been put to bed when GunsN'Roses called it a day.

With the hypnotically seductive death-rock openers of tracks 'Dimstar' ("stay beautiful/The end is just a breath away") and 'Joy' (Goodbye my darling/I'm ready to die") the initial feel is of a band that's been so damaged by perverse nostalgia they've decided to re-make the '70s high school rock soundtrack of Richard Linklater's Dazed And Confused. Yet, with the loping 'Under The Bridge'-styled balladry of 'Oh Jim' and the shamelessly messianic sweep of 'Jesus Christ', Jones' rock romanticism pushes Gay Dad towards pop brilliance. They sound like a great band who've been locked in a cupboard for 20 years with only cheap paperbacks and too many viewings of Velvet Goldmine to keep them going.

In the current introspective climate, any band who are unashamed to admit a debt to Queen and then write such Fleetwood Mac-indebted epics as 'Black Ghost' and the out-and-out gonzo rock of 'Dateline' ("Started feeling blue back in 1972...1999/It's the end of modern time") should be grabbed with both hands. This is an album of heroically extrovert rock music at a time when such qualities are in worryingly short supply. Who knows what we'll think of Gay Dad in ten years' or even ten months' time. Right now it sounds triumphant.

4 out of 5

Andrew Male.

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