Gleemer
Down Through


5.0
classic

Review

by Kyle Robinson USER (69 Reviews)
May 8th, 2020 | 48 replies


Release Date: 05/08/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Gleemer finds clarity.

What does rock music mean in 2020? Is it a stale commercial product that treats Nickelback as year zero, played on FM stations for guys who drive Jeep Wranglers with aftermarket angry face grilles? Is it hearing Boston, or Led Zeppelin, or The Beatles for the nineteen trillionth time, and the occasional young artist emulating the affectations of pentatonic blues rock? These seem like evolutionary dead ends. When the alternative is pop groups like Maroon 5 or Imagine Dragons, who for some bizarre reason the music press continues to insist are something resembling a “rock band,” things seems bleak indeed.

Fortunately, we have Gleemer, who pose their own answer to rock music's fate. Compared to the past influences mined by contemporary artists - from 80s synth-pop of The Midnight to the blues-rock cliches of Greta Van Fleet, Gleemer’s inspiration from 90s alternative - though not exactly original - doesn’t seem quite so stale. Down Through is the album in which Gleemer stops sounding so much like their influences, or something that could be easily pigeonholed into niche subgenera, and starts just sounding like themselves. In the process, they plot a course for what the future of rock could be - emotive and sensitive, yet not angsty. Balanced between tenderness and power. Quietly modest, at odds with guitar heroism - yet rich with melodic hooks.

In past albums Gleemer could fall into a tendency to repeat themselves. This was particularly evident on Anymore, in which several songs, though strong in their own rights, fell into similar drum beats and chord progressions that lent a certain monotony to it. With Down Through, Gleemer finally escapes and manages to somehow sound more diverse and focused at the same time. Opener “Brush Back” doesn’t sound like the first tracks from either of their last few albums; it’s richer, more complex, less evocative of any immediate comparison. Think about the rare alternative band of the 90s whose major-label debut was better than their independent work, and you’re getting close.

What really distinguishes Down Through, and Gleemer’s work as a whole, from the average indie band exploiting retro influences is Gleemer’s skill at integrating these influences into a voice uniquely their own. Where most bands with similar ambitions capture the feeling of hearing, say, a new Smashing Pumpkins song, Gleemer creates the feeling of hearing a great song by a new band in the 90s. This distinction might sound semantic but it’s crucial to understanding what elevates Down Through above emo revival landfill.

Down Through reflects more than mere refinement. “Leadings On” shows the benefit of Will Yip’s production: an intensely-focused track enveloped in gloomy chords summoned from the depths of 1990s angst, driven by powerful drumming from Charlie O’Neil and the juxtaposition of Corey Coffman’s evocative vocals. Speaking of Corey’s vocals, they’re the most-changed element of Gleemer’s sound on Down Through. “Take” demonstrates this most clearly: a remake of “Casino Nights” from 2014’s Holyland USA, Coffman sounds like a different vocalist. “Casino Nights” exemplified the vocals of early Gleemer, a drawling honk that made their early output sound more distinctive, and though toned down over time, never really disappeared until now.

This captures Gleemer’s evolution from shoegaze revivalists into twenty-first century guitar pop, and while some fans might miss Gleemer’s rougher edges, the quality of Down Through makes it evident that this was the right move. Yip’s production, essential to elevating artists like Turnover and Title Fight, doesn’t upend Gleemer’s sound or result in Down Through sounding like Peripheral Vision Part II. Instead, it leads to Gleemer sounding like the best version of themselves. Really, the only way in which Down Through might be a downgrade is that the heavy, hazy guitar tones of Anymore were slightly better.

Gleemer’s ambition has always been the pursuit of the perfectly evocative, immersive record, and with Down Through, the band achieve this even better than on 2015’s outstanding Moving Away. Importantly, this objective shields Down Through from any sense of artistic compromise in pursuit of accessibility. If you listened to American Football’s first LP and stared at the album art the whole time, then Down Through will almost certainly be your 2020 Album Of The Year, because Gleemer understands you. Like previous releases, the lyrics are impenetrable, high-context shards of emotion that are felt rather than analyzed, a new vision of a universal language of midwestern emo that makes the genre more accessible than ever before without detracting from depth of repeat listening.

And trust me, you’ll be listening to Down Through on repeat because at a brisk 34 minutes, not a moment is excess. The songs are exactly as long as necessary, the climaxes never overstaying their welcome. While another song or two would have been nice, the length lends itself well to the vinyl format, like prior records. The acoustic guitar of “TTX” and “Worth” add an additional dynamic to Gleemer’s straight-ahead push. Speaking of which, Down Through exorcises without ill effect the last traces of dream pop influence, so strongly felt on 2014’s Holyland USA.

Down Through is a clear frontrunner for album of the year and a record that similar bands will be hard pressed to surpass. It’s a rare piece of emo with the potential to delight longtime fans and win over a new following in the process, representing Gleemer at their very best. And a sign of life for no-prefix rock music.




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user ratings (88)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Jesper L. (4.5)
Finding comfort in discomfort...


Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
May 8th 2020


885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ah a 2nd review! great write up, 2 revs + an average of 4.8 is what these guys deserve haha

Digging: Sweam - Lounge Music for Cat People

WatchItExplode
May 8th 2020


8178 Comments


Only a few songs in but this is really enjoyable so far...

BigTuna
May 8th 2020


5404 Comments


The opener sounds lovely. Definitely gonna give this a shot. Thanks for reviewing!

Digging: Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher

henryChinaski
May 8th 2020


4358 Comments


Yeah man, that opener rules indeed. Loved their EP and first album. Never checked out their second full length tho.

Nice review!

Digging: The Ghost Inside - The Ghost Inside

Sunnyvale
May 8th 2020


1517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never heard of this band, but jamming now and this rules so far. Nice review!

Faraudo
May 8th 2020


3486 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Down Through is a clear frontrunner for album of the year and a record that similar bands will be hard pressed to surpass. It’s a rare piece of emo with the potential to delight longtime fans and win over a new following in the process, representing Gleemer at their very best. And a sign of life for no-prefix rock music."



Yup, 100%

Digging: Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher

FuzzyThoughts
May 8th 2020


62 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Opener has drawn me in--looking forward to the rest!

WatchItExplode
May 8th 2020


8178 Comments


This is a great sound for the most part. The vocals are pretty one note and had me debating whether I wanted to continue on in the back half. Will give it some opportunity to grow on me though, because my initial impression was very positive.

FuzzyThoughts
May 8th 2020


62 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm mostly done with my first listen and agree with your assessment. A lot of it actually reminds me of Turnover's album Peripheral Vision. Though I definitely think I prefer Peripheral Vision overall.

PostExistance
May 8th 2020


25 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is my AOTY right now

WatchItExplode
May 8th 2020


8178 Comments


Never heard of it Fuzzy. On the list it goes.

Lucman
May 8th 2020


4370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Some really high praise here. Sounds great so far.

This is indeed pretty great!

Digging: Hum - Inlet

JesperL
May 9th 2020


885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i envy anyone who hasn't heard peripheral vision yet so much

dtsanchez
May 9th 2020


140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow, I've been googling 20 times if there was a new Gleemer LP coming out, here it went unnoticed.

Digging: Garden Variety - Garden Variety

instantradical
May 9th 2020


334 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@JesperL I agree, album blew me away when I heard it back in 2017 or so. Still one of my favorites of the last decade.

Observer
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2020


8072 Comments


Fuck yes, loved anymore.

This sounds great. Peripheral vision lives on.

Digging: Big Big Train - English Electric: Full Power

Iamthe Nightstars
May 9th 2020


2860 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's pretty good but I'm not feeling this as much as their other albums. Maybe it will grow on me. It's good to see them finally get some more recognition though.

wildinferno2010
May 10th 2020


581 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Checked Brush Through and the title track on youtube, band sounds like a more melancholic Turnover, which I guess I could get into if it was catchy enough. I'll make a note to give this a listen at some point.



Good review.

Scoot
May 10th 2020


19928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love how the band that basically coined this genre can't even make a proper follow up



gleemer has done a nice job of carrying that sound forward

Digging: Nuvolascura - As We Suffer From Memory and Imagination

Observer
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2020


8072 Comments


true



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