Review Summary: Not your big brother’s Glassjaw.
History has shown us that when a band tries to change their established sound, it’s almost always a disastrous affair. And although my relationship with Glassjaw has been rudimentary at best, I wasn’t so sure that they could pull it off: sure, the band always offered a more mature, refined offering than most of their peers, but I find it’s really hard to escape/evolve out of the heavier genres and still produce a quality product. With their new EP, Coloring Book
, does Glassjaw succeed in changing their sound, or does history rear its ugly head?
starts off on strong note with “Black Nurse”, as the band showcases their new experimental/alternative/jazz influences injected into their established post-hardcore style. After bursting in with a warbled wall of noise, the first verse kicks off with a number of clean, sharp guitar stabs, a running bassline and a collapsing drum beat, keeping a strong drive within a floating structure. Daryl Palumbo continues to show us why he’s one of the best vocalists out there, as his desperate delivery steps up to the plate and soars in the strangely catchy chorus. The sound certainly isn’t what we expected from Glassjaw, but the band’s talents in keeping a strong, progressive, interesting, infectious drive is certainly still as strong as ever.
And while “Black Nurse” was a more breathable affair, runner-up “Gold” turns the page and offers a tighter, bolted-down feeling: with the snare drum snapping on the upbeats, “Gold” commits to a heavier and groovier style, while still keeping a gigantic amount of intensity in the looser choruses. “Vanilla Poltergeist Snake” offers a more stripped-down approach while maintaining a creepier atmosphere amongst an aggressive distorted bass guitar. Lastly, rounding out the heavier part of the EP is “Miracle In Inches”, where Mr. Palumbo absolutely kills in his vocal performance, attacking the song’s chorus a little differently every time but still maintaining a high level of gusto with each go.
But while the majority of Coloring Book
is a rough-and-tumble affair, the EP closes out with two mellow numbers, and they easily compete to be the EP’s best efforts. “Stations Of The New Cross” is a subtle, atmospheric number, leaving strong vocal melodies to carry most of the workload until guitar noises and busy drums pick up towards the end. “Daytona White” acts as the EP’s closer, as soft brush strokes drive the melancholic, almost tragic feel of the song. Guitar static and swirls act as a crescendo before the despairing final part of the song, featuring another humbling vocal performance (“I can’t breathe without you”), and Coloring Book
triumphantly comes to a close.
Although it’s nothing like what we’ve heard from the band before, Glassjaw offers us a fresh and exciting sound that lives up to the quality of their previous releases; This certainly isn’t your big brother’s Glassjaw, but their new sound is just as artistic, expressive, intelligent and, above all else, unique, as anything they’ve ever done (or anything else out there, for that matter). It certainly is commendable when a band tries to change their sound, but when a band does it with a high amount of taste and finesse, as Glassjaw does with Coloring Book
, it truly is inspiring. In short, not only does Coloring Book
fit right into Glassjaw’s quality catalogue, but it also deserves to be heralded as one of the year’s best, and truly one of the best examples of a band transforming to a whole other level.