Saturday, 2 April 2011

Album Review: Glasvegas - Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\

Album: Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\
Artist: Glasvegas
Singles: The World Is Yours (free download), Euphoria, Take My Hand

I never really enjoyed Glasvegas' debut album; although I absolutely loved Geraldine and Daddy's Gone, not much of the rest got to me. So I wasn't too overexcited when I heard about their second album. Then I heard The World Is Yours. Then I heard Euphoria, Take My Hand. Suddenly I wanted to hear this album so badly. And.... well, let's go through it track by track.

Pain, Pain, Never Again
Unfortunately, a slightly overlong opener. I understand its placing and lyrics (well, with the added help of having the lyrics on hand - you'd be lost trying to get your head round James Allan's thick Scottish accent) but really all it does is serve as a build-up track to The World Is Yours. It features spoken words over a synth gradually building up and the same words being spoken in French. Thank god Allan's not the one speaking in French, we'd never understand it!

The World Is Yours
The free download, still as awesome as it was three months ago. It instantly demonstrates the band's new synth-orientated sound, but Allan's powerful and emotive (and ever so slightly out of tune) voice has not been forfeited for this. Just take one listen to "You don't need me as much as I need you" and you'll see what I mean. The new songs may be instantly recognisable as headed for stadiums, but the emotion from the first album, which I admit was lost on me until recently when I had a re-listen, has not gone anywhere. If anything, it's greater.

Barging its way abruptly through past the end of The World Is Yours, this is actually quite similar to the song before it. Its chorus may be simpler: "You! You! Yoooooou!" but on first listen, it doesn't sound particularly different. It's a good song, but doesn't have any instantly memorable features - it requires a good few listens for it to really hit home.

Shine Like Stars
One of my two absolute favourites. It opens after static shuts off You abruptly, and a stabbing synth announces its arrival. "I feel the black fade to grey, I feel forwards as the only way" goes the opening lyric, and you can fully feel the emotional power going into the vocals. This is then followed by the stunning (if again, incredibly simple) chorus of "Shine like stars! Shine like stars do!" Then the guitars crash in, taking this song to dizzy heights of brilliance. If this isn't a single, something's gone wrong somewhere.

Whatever Hurts You Through The Night
Another absolute favourite, which sees the band moving far out of their comfort zone. The song may sound ridiculously overblown, but its M83-style synth line gave me goosebumps - every single time it turned up. There is no chorus, but the synth line takes charge instead. The song is absolutely epic, and Allan's vocals are at their peak in terms of their sheer emotional power - it's also a very sad sounding song. But it's been a long time since I've stopped listening to an album for the first time just to listen to one song again. A definite candidate for song of the year... if I did that.

Stronger Than Dirt (Homosexuality pt. 2)
I will probably never understand the band's reasoning behind putting part 2 first, but oh well. Allan commendably has expanded his lyrical content here, to try and imagine what it would like to be gay, and actually he's nearly at his best on this song. Unfortunately, the music that it's set to is slightly less interesting. Maybe it's because it's coming off the back of two huge 'built-for-stadiums' songs, but it just doesn't hold up as well as the rest of the album. Still, it's an alright song and I won't be skipping it anytime soon.

Dream Dream Dreaming
The quality has gone straight back up for this song. Powerful drums and a familiar-sounding synth open it up well. But the highlight is the chorus - "There will be no holding back, I'll tell you a feeling..." which sounds stunning the first time, but wait until later on in the song, when it all goes quiet as Allan sings the refrain of "I know you're out somewhere" before launching back into the chorus, even more epic than before. Again, the emotion in his voice is at its peak on this song.

I Feel Wrong (Homosexuality pt 1)
A slower song with some nice powerful drumming courtesy of new drummer Jonna Löfgren, this one is more catchy despite its slower pace. Again, we're returning to Allan's imagination of what it's like to be gay, lyrically, and the fact that he's singing about someone who is uncomfortable with those feelings is heightened by the emotive power in his voice. Nothing much happens on this song, but it's still good.

Euphoria, Take My Hand
Whilst the lyrics turn to incredible simplicity ("Your ways, my ways, never, always, the future, the past, the first, the last" goes the first verse.) the song sounds like the obvious radio-friendly choice for the first single. And as the title would suggest, it is a nice big euphoric song. While comparisons have been made between the main guitar riff and Coldplay's Life In Technicolor ii (which I do hear), they're still very different beasts. But still, it sounds huge and will go down well in stadiums.

Lots Sometimes
Despite the repetition of the words "lots sometimes" that occurs throughout this big-sounding penultimate track (The words are sung roughly 50 times throughout the song; at the end of each line), it fades away and you'll find yourself singing those words. Again, choruses are abandoned and the band opts for more of a build-up sort of track. It's a stunning and magnificent final slice of euphoria before the closer...

A sad, piano-driven song about a boy coming out of prison and being scared of actually getting out, this one seems like an anti-climax to the power of Euphoria, Take My Hand and Lots Sometimes, but it holds power in its simplicity - essentially nothing but a piano and Allan's powerful voice showing a more sensitive side as he quietly sings the lyrics, again at their height. And then the album closes with his mother's voice, consoling him. The album ends quite suddenly on the final words; "Before you change for me, change for you." So it may be a sudden change in direction before the end, but it's done well.

Overall, a definite improvement on their debut for me. The songs have added power, particularly in the drumming and singing departments and will work great in stadiums. Guitars may have been slightly confined to the background, but they still hold some weight. The only songs that I'm really not too keen on are the opener and Stronger Than Dirt. (I really don't like the former - maybe if it was a bit shorter, I would like it, but it's not; and Stronger Than Dirt just doesn't interest me as much as the other songs). But generally, this is going to be a highlight of the year for me. Now for some reason I have an urge to listen to Whatever Hurts You Through The Night again.


Previous albums: Glasvegas (6/10)

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