Review Summary: While the title suggests a simple collection of songs, the record itself represents a book that's meant to be read from start to finish.
It's a unique experience to listen to albums that are created to flow naturally from song to song. Pressing play and letting the music take you wherever it wants you to go is something that should be implemented in every album as a whole, rather than focusing on individual tracks. It's an artistic direction, which is bound to find similarities between an author of books and a composer of albums. Because, in a way or another, an album is a book that's meant to be read from start to finish. At least that is the case of Songs from the Glasshouse.
The title suggests a simple collection of individual songs that are supposed to be played at random, but the listening process should be done the other way around. While there's no story or a central theme, there's definitely a concept of sounds and beautiful instrumentation. In Versus
, there's no obvious concept floating around, but The Panic Division have already shown signs of potential in their debut, by combining synth rock and electronic elements with heavy guitars. It would only make sense to take this style, throw it up and see if it flies, which is exactly what Songs from the Glasshouse is doing. For it to fly, there's a need for wings, so adding a little extra magic is exactly what Songs from the Glasshouse is doing. The extra magic represents a much better production, longer and more powerful songs, and a dominant atmosphere throughout the album to keep the headphones on the listener's ears.
But is that the secret behind the appeal? Playing the same style over and over again? Don't worry, there's plenty of diversity for you to enjoy, from uplifting to ambient and down-tempo moments. Obviously, the album starts strong with an intro that blends with a "1, 2, 3, 4" into the powerful and dynamic "Here We Go", dominated by power chords and tribal drumming accompanied by a background-pushed synth and a piano loop. Same story, with more details, in "Polysix", a continuation to the strong start, pushing for a more rock sound with interesting riffs and guitar textures, taking you back to the 80s. The same vibe is certainly maintained in all the songs, with plenty of room to breathe during "Your Satellite", "Broken Wings", and the instrumental, almost Beck-styled "Legacy".
Lyrically, the album aims to rank above average. While it has its moments during "Big Day" or "A Killer is Born", the album mainly focuses on melody and sharp vocals. The story itself is not told through words, but rather through instrumentals. While the instrumentation falls shy of any signs of complexity, it was composed on purpose over simple basslines and melodies without sounding cheesy or cliche-filled. The very punk-ish attitude combined with synth rock elements and a few electro samples works insanely well, and it takes different forms and aspects from song to song.
In the end, Songs from the Glasshouse is no sophomore slump. Instead it carries the immense talent of a heavily underrated band, whose focus is to offer simple, yet extremely enjoyable music through an album that is meant to be listened to as a journey and be read as a book from start to finish. Press play and enjoy the ride.