Gene will forever be haunted by comparisons to the Smiths, especially since lead singer Martin Rossiter favors the same strangled croon and tortured loneliness of Morrissey. Nevertheless, under the direction of guitarist Steve Mason, Gene developed a tougher sound than the Smiths, drawing not only from the fey tradition of British indie-pop, but also from the three-chord raunch of the Faces, the working-class punk of the Jam and the soulful stomp of Motown. Most critic s didn't hear such subtle differences, and opinions on the group's worth were fiercely divided upon the release of the group's first single in 1994, with the band earning as many detractors as supporters. Amidst such divided reaction, Gene developed a devoted following which helped them become one of the leading artists of the Britpop second tier in 1995, even if the band had trouble breaking into the States.