Review of Euphoric Heartbreak Album by Glasvegas

It's difficult to know where to start with Glasvegas. There's the version that musically referenced a boxing match between The Libertines and The Jesus & Mary Chain - the Reid brothers inevitably won by an early knock out - or the one that seemed to traverse into a celebrity world where believing one's own hype was the order of the day. Even now, listening back to those early demos of 'I'm Gonna Get Stabbed' and 'Flowers And Football Tops' it's nigh-on impossible to pinpoint where that band fuelled on raw energy and enthusiastic bravado turned into the more studied, stadium fixated product on display throughout 'Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\'.

Glasvegas Euphoric Heartbreak Album

The traumas besetting the band have been well-documented since 2008's richly deserved breakthrough, and while it would be churlish to dwell too much on the past, there's little doubt that James Allan's highly publicised drug-induced breakdown not to mention the internal personnel changes within the band have played a part in the creation of this record, from a lyrical perspective at least.

Musically, there's little linking 'Euphoric /// Heartbreak' to anything the band have recorded in the past, which evidently supports their initial claims in early interviews to never having heard My Bloody Valentine or many of the other shoegaze-type bands Glasvegas often found themselves compared with way back when. Instead, there's an undeniable feeling here that Allan and co. have their sights set much, much higher, preferably on the same ball park currently occupied by the likes of Bono and Chris Martin.

While ambition isn't necessarily a bad facet, 'Euphoric /// Heartbreak' lacks the consistency to really be able to give U2 et al a proper run for their money. Esteemed producer Flood adds his unmistakeable sheen to proceedings, echoing the role he played in transforming The Killers sound from that of indie rockers to genuine global arena fillers on 'Sam's Town'. The big difference there though was that those songs seemed destined for such environments regardless of which knob twiddler was assigned to add the finishing touches, whereas these simply don't.

At times 'Euphoric /// Heartbreak' resembles a cry for help, from the opening burst of 'The World Is Yours' (_"You don't need me as much as I need you"_ pleads a heartfelt Allan on the song's chorus) to the electronica tinged 'Shine Like Stars' (_"I see the black fade to grey, I see forward as the only way"_). Others it resembles a confusing mess, not helped by the two pieces which bookend the record 'Pain, Pain, Never Again' and 'Change', the latter featuring a cameo from James Allan's mother.

When the album does pull itself together and escape the doldrums, there are some truly heart rendering moments. 'Stronger Than Dirt (Homosexuality Part 2)' resonates like a thirty-piece orchestra rather than traditional four-piece rock and roll band, while penultimate epic 'Lots Sometimes' encapsulates everything that made Glasvegas such an enticing proposition from the outset. Its lolloping build-up matching the lyrical sentiments Allan conveys throughout its seven glorious minutes. Likewise 'Dream Dream Dreaming', which is possibly the closest Glasvegas come here to anything off their debut marrying the simplistic feel of 'Ice Cream Van''s poignancy to an atmospheric riff The Edge would be proud of.

In conclusion, 'Euphoric /// Heartbreak' is something of a schizophrenic record that falls between the rock and a hard place its creators undoubtedly originate from. While not quite crossing over into full-on FM territory, the pernicious nature of James Allan's lyrics thankfully halting such a treacherous path; it never quite matches the standards set by its predecessor, and proffers one burning question for album number three; Will the real Glasvegas please stand up?


Dom Gourlay

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