Monday 11 November 2019

Music: Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ by Glasvegas ****


John Meagher

John Meagher

With a huge sound partly indebted to Glasgow compatriots The Jesus and Mary Chain, and a songwriter drawn to life's downtrodden and under-appreciated, Glasvegas made a big impact with their self-titled debut three years ago.

It's been a rocky road ever since. Frontman James Allan soon succumbed to the age-old rock affliction of drug-induced meltdowns, and then the band's original drummer walked away just before sessions for this album began in California. Swede Jonna Löfgren subsequently replaced Caroline McKay.

It's hardly surprising, then, that the album feels so dark and bruised. Allan thrives on raw, nakedly honest songcraft (think Daddy's Gone from their first album) and this pulsating, angry and piercingly emotional collection suggests that time in a Santa Monica beach house-cum-studio has not sugar-coated his writing one bit.

The production, courtesy of occasional U2 collaborator Youth, retains the epic Spectoresque soundscape of before with one song bleeding into the next. On occasion, the ploy feels a little forced and some of the incidental ambient noise that prefaces and concludes a number of the tracks seems superfluous.

Yet, Allan and friends hit their stride -- most spectacularly on Whatever Hurts You Through the Night and The World is Yours -- the quibbles are banished. At their best, Glasvegas seem like the most vital, impassioned band around and in the widescreen sound created, the "euphoric" part of the album title makes perfect sense.

Incidentally, those 'slashes' in the title are all-important, according to Allan. They represent "the ascent, the crest of a wave and then the crash". This former footballer (he played semi-pro for lower league Cowdenbeath) has clearly been swotting up on the kind of daft pronouncements that Eric Cantona comes out with all too often.

Burn it: Whatever Hurts You Through the Night; The World is Yours

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