might be an unknown band in the U.S., but they’re already burgeoning stars in the U.K., where their self-titled debut wowed critics when it came out there in September of last year. American rock fans have learned to be wary of buzz-heavy bands from Europe that fail to live up to their hype, but Glasvegas seem to be the real deal: Glasvegas
offers songs full of dreamy guitars and gloomy lyrics. Frontman James Allan and the rest of the Scottish quartet might be accused of being yet another down-in-the-mouth U.K. rock band, but their hypnotic power and melodic muscle are too potent to dismiss.
Excellent Mood Music
Some of the material from Glasvegas existed before the album’s creation – tracks like “Daddy’s Gone” and “It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry” were the young band’s calling cards when they were trying to attract label interest. If that makes the album feel a bit like a rehash for those who knew the band already, Glasvegas features re-recorded versions of those songs, not to mention many superb new tracks that fit snugly into their catalog. There is no question that James Allan writes tunes that seem perfect for chilly, rain-swept nights when you’re feeling vulnerable and alone, but beyond being excellent mood music, the material on Glasvegas is also undeniably catchy, undercutting the gloom with bright guitars and soaring vocals.
Lyrics That Become True Poetry
Allan also helps his cause by being an ace lyricist, turning conventional diary-style poetry into evocative scenes of emptiness and despair. “S.A.D. Light” builds its heartbreak from Allan looking up into the night sky at a single star, drawing a comparison between that lonely little light and his own feelings of abandonment. “Daddy’s Gone” is an unsentimental tale of a father who was never around, while “Stabbed” is an unsettling piano number that incorporates a bit of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata as Allan paints a picture of a man about to be attacked by a mob. Musically, the songs are dramatic combinations of modern rock and postpunk, but Allan’s pungent stories help give them life.
'Glasvegas' - Bottom Line
In the final analysis, Glasvegas
suggests a band still trying to establish their own identity. At their best, like on the anthemic “Go Square Go” or the soaring “Geraldine,” Glasvegas recall bands as diverse as Oasis
and My Bloody Valentine
. But as consistently engaging as this collection of songs is, there remains a nagging sensation that, really, you’ve heard all this before. It’s both the blessing and the curse of a hyped new band: Glasvegas hark back to some of the most exciting moments of your favorite bands, but they also make you wonder if they can transcend those comparisons and do something original on their own. Time will tell with Glasvegas, but on their debut, they raise hopes about what they could do next.
Best 'Glasvegas' Tracks:
“Go Square Go” (Purchase/Download
“Daddy’s Gone” (Purchase/Download
Release date – January 6, 2009