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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