Glasvegas
Glasvegas


2.5
average

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
November 8th, 2008 | 89 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Expansive, ambitious, quite pretty, and utterly ruined by a hopelessly incompetent singer.

Perhaps the most consistent failing in the history of popular music, amongst rock artists in particular, is a lack of humour and wit. Altogether too many bands, young ones especially, take themselves painfully seriously, believing that every word and every note of their music will be held up to scrutiny by their listeners, and that any criticism of their music represents an unacceptable personal attack on everything they stand for. In that respect, the ever-mounting hype surrounding Glasvegas is justified - in 2008, nobody takes themselves as seriously as these guys (and girl) do.

Hailing from Glasgow, Glasvegas' sound owes more to the other part of their name. That's not to say it's glitzy, glammy, and throwaway (although there is something of that about the production at times), but more that it's big. Seriously big. Drums reverb for what seems an eternity, the guitars sound like they've been put through three or four delay units; spiritually, at least, this music has more in common with Sigur Ros than any of the expected reference points for a Scottish band (Orange Juice, Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian, etc.). That's one thing you can't take away from Glasvegas - they don't sound anything like their contemporaries. The best comparison is probably The Jesus & Mary Chain, given their simplistic drumming and love for Phil Spector-esque melodies, but even then one must acknowledge that they don't sound like any other J&MC inspired bands of this decade. Certainly not any British or successful ones, at any rate.

So it's no wonder they've been hyped. And what hype! A brief browse of the fourth estate during the month this was released revealed that no less than four major music publications, and three further newspapers, felt the need to mention Definitely Maybe in their reviews of this album. That's pretty lofty praise. It's also confusing - the reason Oasis were such a big deal was that they presided over a period of music so starved of English guitars that Primal Scream's "Rocks" basically caused a mass orgasm when it made the UK Top 10. Obviously, things are different now, what with a good proportion of the most successful pop bands using plenty of guitars themselves, and it's hard to make out what, if anything, Glasvegas are meant to be standing for or reviving. Other than the art of being po-faced.

It's the vocals that are the main problem. The singer, James Allan, is just about the most utterly humourless man in music; the only way he could have come off worse during his appearance on pop quiz show Never Mind The Buzzcocks is if he'd stabbed a member of the audience. As a performer that comes through, in that he's a singer who belongs to two very serious and stern traditions, and as such sounds like a mutant hybrid of Ian Curtis and Roddy Woomble. He sings every word as if it's the most important thing anybody has ever said, and he also makes absolutely no effort to mask his broad Glaswegian accent. At times it's like listening to a political sermon being delivered by The Proclaimers. And how, ultimately, can a listener be expected to take that seriously? On one particularly cringeworthy track, he sings the words 'My name is Geraldine/I'm your social worker' as if he is bestowing holy knowledge. How can you not laugh at that? In truth, you actually find yourself feeling so sorry for him. Despite his sometimes impressive lyricism, 'rock star' is so obviously not his life's calling that it gets slightly embarrassing listening to him try.

There's a long-standing joke in England that observes how our print media refers to people like Andy Murray, Travis, David Coulthard, and Billy Connoley as 'British' when they're popular and successful, and 'Scottish' when they're not. By that logic, Glasvegas would still be considered Scottish on this showing. And yet, musically, this is a very good record, one that might have been worth as much as a 4.5 with a different vocalist. That's why it's still a worthwhile listen. No doubt there'll be a few very, very good bands inspired by these songs who will emerge over the next five years. When that happens, Glasvegas will be rendered largely redundant. Until then, we shall have to listen to this, acknowledge how fresh and interesting it is at its best, and wish the singer had lightened up a bit.



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Ali CONTRIBUTOR (4)
The 'Best New Band in Britain's' debut lives up to the hype....


Comments:Add a Comment 
StreetlightRock
Emeritus
November 8th 2008


3771 Comments


You llooooveee taking these sorts of bands to the ground don't you? Wicked cool review.

Digging: The Flaming Lips - With A Little Help From My Fwends

Iai
Emeritus
November 8th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

My next review is Razorlight.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2008


17920 Comments


i like this piece of writing here

lunchforthesky
November 8th 2008


1039 Comments


Great review. What an ass he was on Buzzcocks.

fireaboveicebelow
November 8th 2008


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

that episode was hilarious though

lunchforthesky
November 8th 2008


1039 Comments


Was Germaine Greer on that episode?

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
November 8th 2008


862 Comments


Just watched the episode, hilarious. Dude needs to stop taking himself so seriously. And yes, Greer was on that episode, funny lady.

Excellent review.

robin
Emeritus
November 8th 2008


4249 Comments


that whole "does not wish to speak with his father" business was brilliant. along with the attack on him being pretentious.

Iai
Emeritus
November 8th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah Simon Amstell did really well in the circumstances to keep it funny without having him storm off like Preston did. Germaine Greer is also one of the best contestants they've ever had on that show.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2008


20857 Comments


I've already taken Razorlight to the ground... And many others have a couple of years ago on their last album.
Fantastic review Nick. The band still intrigues me and your mentioning of the music being almost 4.5 worthy heightens that. But yeah, this review wins, if only because The Proclaimers were mentioned. And now..... "I'm On My Way..."

Kiran
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


6001 Comments


Agree entirely with you. The singer is so off-putting.

Mikesn
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


3709 Comments


Altogether too many bands, young ones especially, take themselves painfully seriously, believing that every word and every note of their music will be held up to scrutiny by their listeners, and that any criticism of their music represents an unacceptable personal attack on everything they stand for
lol awesome

The songs they had up on their myspace were pretty boring.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

jabbitt
November 9th 2008


1 Comments


This is a pretty poor review.

I would say that the whole idea of writing a song is to sing it like its the most important thing ever said; it's your song.

Glasvegas are a top band with a talent for summing up British society, and his "broad Glaswegian accent" helps to make them individual.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2008


7358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^^ I agree with this guy on how the vocals make them individual.

It was a very good review though

Iai
Emeritus
November 9th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I would say that the whole idea of writing a song is to sing it like its the most important thing ever said; it's your song.

I held that opinion when I was 17 too; then I realised that this is the kind of logic that leads people to believe that Stain'd are the best band in the world.

natey
November 10th 2008


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Haha, amen.

RandMcNally
November 10th 2008


158 Comments


I hate bands like this. His accent is contrived and not original whatsoever, its a gimmick. There are hundreds of bands before them who use regional accents calling it their sound. As i Glaswegian, this makes me cringe, and saddens me. They are exploiting the unfair and completely inaccurane 'hard-mans city' public view of Glasgow, not helped my rangers fc in manchester i might add. Why do the vocal minority always ruin it for the majority of honest, hard working people.
Firsty, naming themselves Glasvegas (a local term for Glasgow City) then coming across with the accent, they are making it clear what the selling point is, they are completely expoilting the city and its people. You are not the voice of this great city, infact, most those you sing about have probably never heard of Glasvegas, they only listen to happy hardcore anyway. lol
Sorry about the rant, but this one is personal.

TimeToTurnTheTide
November 10th 2008


208 Comments


excellent review. I think I heard these guys live on Channel 4 a while back but couldnt really hear the vocals too well. Which was evidently a good thing according to your review

big80smullet
November 10th 2008


41 Comments


i wanted to check these guys out but you've made me second guess myself

AndyRictor2000
January 5th 2009


146 Comments


LOL, the drummer is a tub of lard.



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