Release Date: Apr 4, 2011
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Garage Rock Revival
After a hyped début, Glasvegas have already experienced the backlash; now it's time for the backslash. While excessive punctuation is a new thing with regard to their album titles, musical punctuation remains a staple of the Glasvegas sound. The most common criticism of Glasvegas was that the big-indie production sheen and bluster that swept away the swooning girl-group sensibilities and distorted Wall-of-Sound rawness that so made so many eager to proclaim them heirs to the Jesus and Mary Chain's mantle.
Scotland's Glasvegas emerged a couple of years back as unabashed Phil Spector revivalists, combining the sonic grandeur of the Brill Building legend's pop operas with Eighties Brit-rock atmospherics. But the quartet have decided that the bombast of their 2009 debut wasn't bombastic enough. On Euphoric Heartbreak, the synths chime like church organs, the guitars peal and the choruses climb toward the cloud-swaddled mountaintop where God sits enthroned.
Get James Allan going on the lyrics of his band’s second album, and you’ll find it hard to get him stopped. Ask him to describe its sounds, though, and he’s consistently responded with just one phrase: “like a dream”. That those three little words are the key to this richly complicated, exhilaratingly vital album is clear from its first moments.Chilly, pale fingers of synth reach out and sweep like searchlights, and a voice intones in French: “[i]Souffrance, vous n’avez jamais existé[/i]”.
Glasvegas are not a happy bunch, and though their self-titled debut proudly perpetuated Glasgow’s great musical heritage, the picture painted in its sombre, anthemic beauty wasn’t exactly an advertisement for Scotland’s second city. The mood was one of a maddening sadness ingrained into one life spent amidst that great looming conurbation; it’s almost heart-wrenching to consider whether vocalist James Allan ever heard that tested life lesson of “write what you know”. One part of me hopes that the new record's title Euphoric///Heartbreak\\\ might lend weight to the expectation that they have found a few highs with which to balance the lows.
Scottish alt-rockers Glasvegas' 2008 debut landed the brooding Glaswegians a Mercury Prize nomination. Glasvegas' winning but not-so-subtle amalgamation of U2, Echo & the Bunnymen, Joy Division, late-period Depeche Mode, and the Jesus and Mary Chain hinted at a band that was ready to make a go of it, and their simple, earnest lyrics, as filtered through the thick yet sweet brogue of frontman James Allan, had listeners swooning, despite all of the band's sonic redundancies. Written, demoed, and tracked at a beach house in Santa Monica, California before undergoing final production under the direction of producer Flood in London, Euphoric Heartbreak keeps the fire burning, but feeds it only the wispiest of kindling.
Glasvegas's first album placed them halfway between U2 and the Jesus and Mary Chain, wedding the unembarrassed passion of the former to the monochrome pop classicism of the latter. Their second sees them step decisively in the direction of the first of those two inspirations, with James Allan emoting unceasingly over a sonic backdrop dominated by sequenced synths and pummelling bass rather than guitars swathed in reverb. When it works, it's spectacular: the choruses of The World Is Yours and Dream Dream Dreaming are skyscraping.
Beware: there are no social workers on Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\, the second album from Scottish romantics Glasvegas. No obnoxious boozy fathers encourage their kids to fight, the Baltic fleet is not up anyone’s arse, and singer-songwriter James Allan no longer feels guilty about all the things he said to his Mum when he was ten years old. Pretty much anything that was unique or charming about Allan’s lyrics on 2008’s Glasvegas is gone.
There was a brief period of time where Glasvegas were technically an indie band, releasing scrappy little 7" singles and getting praise for their demos, but they never had much interest in acting or sounding like one. Their skyscraping, Rich Costey-produced debut from 2008 was proof enough of that, and now their second album, EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\, removes all doubts as to whether they'd ever look back. The title alone promises a thrill ride spanning the poles of human emotion, rendered in all caps as if to say, "your feelings must be this tall to ride.
GLASVEGAS roll into Lee’s Palace on Sunday (May 29). See listing. Rating: NN Glasvegas frontman James Allan sings with a heavy Scottish brogue that makes the lyrics on Euphoric Heartbreak a challenge to understand. That's not to say we don't get the overall message after 11 moaning tunes: pain and lots of it.
Glasvegas, the Scottish band who, whatever else, should win the award for world’s best band name – from what genius mind could an amalgamation of glittering Las Vegas and industrial Scottish city Glasgow come? – have continued on their journey toward international recognition with their new album, EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK , and to mixed results. Why mixed? Well, it’d be harsh to say that EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK doesn’t have its share of strong moments. The opening double punch of “Pain, Pain, Never Again” and “The World is Yours” is excellent.
A triumphant second LP after so little plain sailing between albums. Alex Denney 2011 Glasvegas first emerged in 2007 ticking many of the ‘big sounding’ indie band boxes: a gang of four working-class kids from Glasgow’s east end flaunting a woolly-mammoth-sized take on Jesus and Mary Chain scuzz and 60s girl-pop grandeur. Unlike the vast majority of their peers, however, this lot actually had something — the sound was authentically naive, brittle; the clunking bum-TISH rhythms and singer James Allan’s vocals betraying a strange vitality the rest could only dream of getting close to.