Glasvegas [Columbia]


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Ian Birnam provides some preview tracks for Glasvegas' latest album.

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It's hard to find a rock or pop album nowadays without a synthesizer mixed in there somewhere. EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK , the second album by Scotland's Glasvegas, is no exception.

EUPHORIC could have been a continuation of the band's bold, arena rock style that swirls James Allan's thick accent over soaring guitar progressions. Sadly, the dominating synth drowns out the band's powerful presence, turning the album into a commercial product. The new concepts the band explores are similarly concealed and require multiple listens to truly grasp the ideas through the synthetic haze.

Tones of desire, rejection and regret come full circle in the spoken word tracks that open and close the album. Allan's attempts to convey life as a gay man especially make use of these tones, voicing how prejudices can swallow you whole unless you rise above them. These fresh ideas are squandered by mundane beats that merge with Allan's vocals, creating slurs almost unintelligible without the aid of a lyric sheet.

Yet Allan still projects appeal, as his accent adds character to the garbled lyrics. This charm, apparent in tracks like "The World is Yours," is not only a counterbalance to the album's repetitive drone, but is also the sliver of originality that Glasvegas retains.

EUPHORIC fails to capture the intimate concepts and original sound behind their debut. The delightfully indistinguishable words and massive instruments once positioned Glasvegas as an up-and-coming quartet with a sound that could easily fill amphitheatres. That sound has now been watered down for mainstream rock and pop, transforming a refreshing band into a humdrum corporate item.

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