Glasvegas – Euphoric///Heartbreak\\\ album review

I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of Glasvegas before I was tasked with writing this review. This is a good way to go into a review; a blank slate, with no expectations in regards to the band’s popularity, quality or genre. So I was pretty shocked when, after listening to this album, I went to research the band a bit and discovered that not only are they rather popular, but they’re also critical darlings – Wikipedia says that their first album “received universal critical acclaim”. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that Euphoric///Heartbreak\\\ is something of a sophomore slump, because the only thing I could say after the album was done was “Who the hell listens to this junk?”

Glasvegas are a band based in Glasgow, Scotland that make self-important music that sounds like 80s stadium rock. To be honest, their songs are not offensively bad, though mostly boring and overwhelmingly average. This would be at least a decent album, if there weren’t two big problems that ruin every song on it.

The first is lead singer/guitarist James Allen. To get a good idea of what he sounds like, imagine Thom Yorke; now lower him about an octave or two, and take away all of his vocal range. Then make him over-emote like Eddie Vedder. Add a Scottish, Groundskeeper Willie type accent that he makes no effort to cover up. Sound good so far? Alright, now put the vocals through copious amounts of reverb and auto-tune, and you’ve got the right idea. Blech.

The second large issue is the production, which totally sucks the life from a majority of the album. It seems like Glasvegas really want to sound like the 80s, because everything possible has been made to sound big and cheesy. There’s a layer of reverb on every single instrument; the drums boom, guitars have a big arena-rock sound, and every song has a keyboard drone backing it, just in case one of the tunes threaten to become too organic or relatable. It sounds like Bon Jovi, except without the hooks or fun.

This isn’t to say that the album would be great minus these two things; for the most part, the writing is pretty sub-par. The songs all sound the same and they hobble along with very little in the way of dynamic contrast or change in feel. Everything’s got this layer of humourless self-importance; the band wants you to believe that all of their emotional lyrics and obvious chord changes are the most important thing you’ve ever heard in your life. At one point, when the song “Whatever Hurts You Through the Night” started, I actually audibly groaned at the big, stadium synth lead that kicks it off. The album also ends in the most hilariously overwrought way possible: a “heartfelt” monologue by a Scottish woman, telling her son not to be afraid of change. The only emotional response I had to it was laughter.

There’s a total of one song that actually works on this album: “I Feel Wrong (Homosexuality Pt. 1)”, in which the band actually allows a bit of space and minimalism to pervade, to good effect. It’s a heartbreaking song in which the narrator displays the disgust he’s been made to feel with his own sexual identity throughout his entire life. The production is still obnoxious and the vocals are still terrible, but for once, it actually manages to strike the emotional chord that they try too hard to hit every time.

Overall though, I’d suggest you run, not walk, away from Glasvegas’s second album, Euphoric///Heartbreak\\\. It’s sickeningly retro, painfully obvious, and absolutely humourless. If you’re really hankering for an emotional 80s sound, I’d strongly suggest you skip this piece of trite garbage and go pick up Kaputt by Destroyer, an album that has a similar feel but actually works by being varied and musically adventurous. In short, Euphroic///Heartbreak\\\ is one of the worst albums I’ve heard in a long while, and has made Glasvegas one of my most hated bands. Congratulations, I suppose.

By Daniel Korn

Daniel wants to be a rock star when he grows up. He is currently pursuing a career in music by studying at York University, where he hits things loudly with sticks. He is in two gigging bands - New Stems and The Formalists. He writes for MVRemix and Cadence Canada. He also has a weekly podcast called Two Loud Guys. Aside from music, he likes video games, comic books, puppies, and food. You can follow him on twitter @AmateurDan.

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