Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Glasvegas S/T review

Published January 15, 2009 in The Red & Black


Although it has been on the shelves in England since September, Glasvegas' self-titled debut finally saw its U.S. release last week.

The album casts the Scottish rock quartet as a post-punk outfit. All the hallmarks of the style are in place: anthemic melodies, wall-of-sound production and ethereal guitar work copped from U2, all anchored by a pulsating bass undercurrent.

The problem is, of course, that while all of Glasvegas' musical traits mesh well together and display a promising sense of internal chemistry, little from its debut feels markedly original - as if the band is content to retread the sonic terrain achieved by its predecessors rather than construct its own identity from it.

Even so, "Glasvegas" is a relatively solid debut, a handful of its songs boasting gorgeously crafted melodies and acute sense of dynamic ("Geraldine," "Polmont on My Mind," "Flowers and Football Tops").

Allan has a frustratingly familiar vocal style, resembling a rough-edged, Scottish version of The Shins' James Mercer at his best and AFI's Davey Havok at his worst. His melodies are stylized in the same fashion in nearly every song, but when his lyrically verbose tendencies push the band into spoken-word territory - particularly on "Stabbed" and "It's My Own Cheating Heart that Makes Me Cry" - it suggests a unique nuance for Glasvegas to explore in the future. Only "Go Square Go" leaves an unfavorable impression: its awkwardly jaunty momentum feels affected and borders on being outright silly.

It suggests enormous potential - but if Glasvegas has any hope to separate itself from the slew of post-punk imitators in the future, it'll have to bring something new to the table.

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