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Album Review

Gene Dante and the Future Starlets, ‘The Romantic Lead’

July 13, 2009
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Local Rock
Gene Dante and the Future Starlets The Romantic Lead
Omnirox
ESSENTIAL “A Madness to His Method’’
Gene Dante and the Future Starlets perform at Oliver’s (at Cask ‘n Flagon, 62 Brookline Ave.) on Friday.

Gene Dante is not really a bitch, but he plays one on CD - as well as a number of other delectably haughty roles designed to showcase his inner (and outer) dandy. Dante’s had practice, of course, most notably as the lead role in touring productions of “The Rocky Horror Show’’ and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’’ On the Boston actor-turned-singer-songwriter’s full-length musical debut, “The Romantic Lead,’’ Dante bangs a glam gong and gets his Bowie on to cheeky, mostly marvelous effect. Glitter-dusted pop numbers like “This Is the Closing’’ and “To a God Unknown’’ not only channel Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era with adoring precision but reiterate how perfectly suited that epoch was, and is, to a stage-trained voice like Dante’s (so strong a presence, in fact, that it occasionally threatens to overwhelm the material). “I am gorgeous, I am without disease,’’ Dante croons exultantly on the opener, “A Madness to His Method.’’ “There is nothing in this brave new world wrong with me.’’ Indeed, Dante’s universe is a self-made world of gaudy narcissism, trash-culture fabulousness, and gender-bending androgyny brought to life by the singer’s scenery-chewing personality and the pungent musicianship of the Starlets’ Jim Collins (bass), Tamora Gooding (drums), and Scott Patalano (lead guitar). (Out now)

JONATHAN PERRY