Scots return with more bruised turmoil but less bombast
Where did it go wrong for Glasvegas? Having become one of the UK’s premier providers of terrace anthems for the drunk and emotional on their self-titled 2008 debut, the Glasgow band flopped with the pompous ‘Euphoric Heartbreak’ two years later.
But they’re back, and the new album is a bold statement of intent and hope, packed with the same heart and turmoil that have become the band’s bruised trademark. It consolidates what made ‘Glasvegas’ great, while streamlining the ‘ambition’ (read: overblown production, lack of a killer single) that hampered ‘Euphoric…’. The bleakly titled ‘I’d Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)’ shows Glasvegas’ blood still runs black, James Allan delivering a cold dismissal to a lover over a piano line Coldplay wouldn’t kick out of bed. ‘Choices’ is another slow burner, with Allan’s vocals low in the mix as the ballad envelops him. Still preoccupied with all things morbid, he sings: “I don’t wanna die but I don’t wanna live”.
It doesn’t all work, though. There is little, if any, advancement in the band’s sound, which leaves them predictable after three albums mining The Jesus And Mary Chain and Phil Spector’s girl-group production. Similarly, the lyrics can fall back on subjects covered with greater class in the past. ‘All I Want Is My Baby’ tackles broken homes as Allan mutters: “It kills me inside to hear about half an hour’s extra custody”. But the image created is more like an episode of Jeremy Kyle than the horror they painted on 2007 track ‘Daddy’s Gone’.
One lyric that seems poignant, though, is on ‘If’, when Allan flips Talking Heads’ ‘Road To Nowhere’ to “I’m on the road to somewhere”. He’s not wrong. But the weird thing about this band is that no-one knows where, least of all them.