Plumbiferous Media

Glasvegas - Glasvegas

Jan 11th 2009
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Glasvegas - GlasvegasGlasvegas
Score: 52

Glasve­gas, which formed in 2003, steadi­ly grew in pop­u­lar­i­ty, releas­ing 7” after 7”, until this past Sep­tem­ber with the release of their self-titled album. The album was, for the band’s first LP, a huge hit. It peaked at #2 on the UK charts, was cer­ti­fied gold, and recent­ly graced 2008’s Top 10 lists in a num­ber of UK magazines.

The album, with only a few excep­tions, also received very pos­i­tive reviews. But we don’t think the album real­ly is all that the above might lead you to believe, and its US release this past week gives us the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to review it ourselves.

Glasve­gas begins with an Explo­sions in the Sky-like intro (only about 10 min­utes short­er), but quick­ly added to that is a rather strong drum­beat. At first this seems to com­plete­ly clash with the amor­phous wave of sound, but the vocals come in and quick­ly bring it togeth­er. This sounds odd at first, but the track strength­ens as it pass­es. “Geral­dine” fol­lows with instru­men­tals that are sim­i­lar, but just slight­ly more defined.

In fact, most of the tracks gen­tly tran­si­tion from the pre­vi­ous one (the more jar­ring changes are left for the mid­dles of the tracks), but instead of always mov­ing for­ward and cre­at­ing a new, inter­est­ing sound, tracks often fall back to a sound already made ear­li­er in the album. And while there are a lot of quite orig­i­nal instru­men­tals, this, sad­ly, leaves one with the impres­sion that what they’ve been lis­ten­ing to has already been done, and that Glasve­gas can only cre­ate a rel­a­tive­ly small num­ber of tex­tures. Glasvegas’s instru­men­tals have a great poten­tial, but it was not reached in this album.

Glasve­gas’s lyrics are eas­i­ly the weak­est part of the album - they’re a com­bi­na­tion of clich­es, ter­ri­ble writ­ing, and per­plex­ing choice of sub­ject. Glasve­gas has obvi­ous­ly tried to inject mean­ing through their lyrics, but they come out as bland and unin­ter­est­ing. “Stabbed” embod­ies this fail­ure, as Allan’s dron­ing into­na­tion of “I’m gonna get stabbed” com­plete­ly fails to evoke the dra­mat­ic atmos­phere towards which Glasve­gas seems to be reach­ing. In terms of sub­ject, “S.A.D. Light” and “Ice Cream Van” are patent­ly ridicu­lous - yes, they’re metaphors, but who in their right mind would write about an ice cream van as a metaphor for bet­ter times, and, as if that weren’t enough, ther­a­peu­tic lighting?

To be fair, though, Glasve­gas’s sim­ple lyrics do occa­sion­al­ly work. “Go Square Go,” the album’s first sin­gle, uses this sim­plic­i­ty to fuel the atmos­phere of child­hood pres­sure. Also, the lyri­cal sym­plic­i­ty fits with Allan’s vocals, with their deeply-accent­ed, sta­di­um rock-like aes­thet­ic.  His vocals are occa­sion­al­ly grat­ing and seem some­what over­done, but at least they’re interesting.

The sound of Glasve­gas isn’t exact­ly new, but it is tried and test­ed. As with every oth­er rock album of this sort, there’s a strong base­line, airy gui­tars and a good bit of rep­e­ti­tion. How­ev­er, as uno­rig­i­nal as it may be, it is done pass­ably well. Tech­ni­cal­ly, there aren’t any obvi­ous issues - the pro­duc­tion is clean and up to the stan­dard of any band on Colum­bia Records - but the album is just not ter­ri­bly inter­est­ing. The prob­lem isn’t that it blends togeth­er over­much, but rather that it’s sim­ply there. Noth­ing in the sound stands out, and thus nei­ther do any of the indi­vid­ual songs. Sure, the album has its moments, but they lose their appeal after they’re repeat­ed for the fifth time. Over­all? There’s real­ly noth­ing inter­est­ing to see here.

Glasve­gas has its high points, but they can’t quite make up for the gen­er­al medi­oc­rity sur­round­ing the album. On their self-titled album, Glasve­gas has sound­ly earned its mediocre score - as lit­tle as that means.

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