Review of Later. When The TV Turns To Static Album by Glasvegas

It seems inconceivable to think that, for a band seemingly on the cusp of widespread international recognition less than five years ago, any mention of the name "Glasvegas" these days is usually preceded by "Whatever happened to.?" Public breakdowns, band members departing and the ignominy of being dropped by a major record label all being contributing factors, it's fair to say Glasvegas have several good reasons to believe lady luck and the treacherous nature of the music industry have conspired against them. Ever since their highly acclaimed debut emerged five years ago this month, the weight of expectation has proved an unbearably terse burden for the band and something which has dogged them ever since. While initially well received critically in some quarters, 2011's follow-up record 'Euphoric Heartbreak' failed to capture the imagination of Joe Public despite its ambitious overtones. Which brings us to where Glasvegas find themselves at this present moment in time.

Glasvegas Later. When The TV Turns To Static Album

Having regrouped shortly after the severance of their contract with Columbia, it wasn't long before the songs started taking shape for the next record. Indeed, several of those that made it onto 'Later. When The TV Turns To Static' have been a part of the live set for a good fifteen months or so now. At the time, still without a label, the band set up their own Go Wow imprint solely for the purpose of releasing the album. Since then, of course, Glasvegas have inked a deal with another major (BMG), but at the time of recording 'Later.' it would be difficult to envisage morale in the camp to be anything but low. Which is probably why, for the most part, 'Later.' takes a very maudlin, self-deprecating journey and, perversely, sounds all the more interesting than its predecessor as a result.

With its brooding introductory bassline wrenching at the speakers, building emphatically throughout, the title track sounds like a close cousin of 'It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry'. James Allan opines "I didn't want to walk away" in the most passive, lovelorn manner while cousin Rab's guitar swoons on the surface. As a result, it manifests as arguably Glasvegas' most defining moment since that first record, and in many ways sets the agenda for what follows.

Caustic feedback introduces the introspective 'Youngblood' while 'Choices', with its melancholic piano-led refrain, delivers some of the most personal lyrics James Allan has penned to date ("I wanna lose, but have nothing left to gamble"). 'All I Want Is My Baby' also takes a long, hard, reflective look in the mirror, reverb heavy guitars duelling over lines like "It's all about the money, I hope it makes you happy"; something its creator clearly wasn't upon writing the majority of this record. The Smithsy 'Secret Truth' offers a musical departure of sorts from not only the rest of 'Later.' but also Glasvegas' previous output. The sentiment, however, fits hand in glove along with its compatriots on the record, Allan's piercing scream that "Every f***ing time I talk you look back" revealing the band at their most poignant.

Diminutive ballad 'I'd Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)' and exquisite closer 'Finished Sympathy' aside, the second half of 'Later.' tails off somewhat. Even the bastardisation of Talking Heads 'Road To Nowhere' during its coda ("We're on the road to somewhere") doesn't quite save 'If' from falling into the also-rans category. Likewise 'Magazine', which proves forgettable in a Big Country b-side kind of way.

Nevertheless, 'Later. When The TV Turns To Static' contains enough key moments to justify its existence, and with that high profile BMG arrangement in place, Glasvegas can rest safe in the knowledge that their future's secure for the foreseeable part at least.

Dom Gourlay

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