Saturday, 18 October 2008

Glasvegas- 'Glasvegas' (Sony BMG 8/9/08)

The Jesus And Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Spector, the Ronettes etc etc. The influences are written on sleeves, threaded through the tracks, ever present. Glasvegas sound like little else current, but a lot else olden.

This hyped debut opens positively, the big drumbeats and 'whoas' of the background combine with the 'couldn't be more Scottish if it was wearing tartan and eating a battered Mars bar' vocal stylings of singer James Allan on 'Flowers And Football Tops', creating what is at its noir heart, a good pop song.

'Geraldine' maintains the quality, its almost stadium-esque guitars mixing perfectly with an ode of love to “the angel on your shoulder.” The down key nature of 'It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry' almost makes it better, with the 50s influences very much to the fore on a more sombre track.

The terrace chant of 'Go Square Go' bounces along on its apparently meaningless repetition of the title, before descending further into the hooligan anthem, with Allan driving the crowd to a frenzy with his “here we fucking go.” I'm not going anywhere. Sorry.

One plus, or minus, is the clearly defined Glasvegas sound. The 50s inspired guitars, mixed with the reverb and echo of Phil Spector, create a certain sound that no one does any more. The minus is that, despite carving their own niche into the rock, they only have one niche. 'Polmont On My Mind' is evidence of this, dawdling along, turning up the guitars for another big chorus, and clicking on the reverb pedal, with all the passion of a prostitute and a lonesome businessman.

It just makes you all the more grateful when 'Daddy's Gone' makes its entrance. Do any more words need be expended further eulogising this track? Probably not.

Whatever the motives of it, 'Stabbed' just feels like a cheap cash in on tabloid hysteria. It may be relevant to many people's lives, but you just know that if it had been done by on Brass Eye, you'd be laughing, despite the tragedy of the words. The classical piano backing just adds to the heightened sense of ridicule.

'S.A.D Light' makes a nursery rhyme reference, much like 'Flowers And Football Tops', but this time using 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. A lack of ideas, or just continuing the childhood references that linger around, of absent fathers, football, and social workers? The simple drumbeat that opens the track is soon overtaken by the broken croons, but remains steady throughout, a concrete foundation. Sadly, little of interest is built on it, just a few breeze blocks.

'Ice Cream Van' is the true let down of the album, the vocals lost in its own echo chamber. It feels like its had its tethers cut, and has started floating through the clouds. It feels distant, remote, and nothing happens in the whole 5 minutes. As an album closer it fails. As a track it fails.

Sadly, Glasvegas don't quite match their Alan McGee spurred hype. Too often the track is one paced and one dimensional. Outside of the blandness of the closer, there is as little variety in style as an emo convention. When they really slot the melodies together, it sparks and spits like little else. Unfortunately, there are just a few too many misfires to make this the classic it could have been.

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