It’s official; disappointment is alive and well in wilds of Scotland. After months of breathless hype and tales of cabin fever coming out of the Glasvegas camp they present us with this, the greatly anticipated follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut. They had the chance to step up to the next level, riding on the wave of good feeling created by their eponymous first album and produce a triumphant successor, catapulting them into stardom, adulation and yachtloads of drugs. Here’s the kicker, though – it’s really, really, irredeemably shit.
The whole album reeks of pretention (especially the title – oh, god, the title); from the opening murmurs of burbled French to the faux-emoting of final track/piano aberration Change it never lets up, Allan wailing sixth-form poetry over self-consciously gloomy interludes. It just feels like the band have more than began to believe their hype and have been consumed by it, being that all the plaudits thrown at them seemingly only told them “Hey guys! You’re great! Quickly, make an album as wilfully obtuse as possible!”. Or maybe I’m just reading too much in it. Maybe they’re just wankers.
And ‘wankers’ really is the overwhelming impression you get when you listen to the record. Allan’s voice seems to be suffering an identity crisis, lurching haphazardly from the bellowed death throes of a sinking ship’s foghorn to the mellow tones of a dog having a go at the sort of vocal exercises usually reserved for X-Factor contestants, overpowering any song the band care to throw at him. He’s single-handedly pioneered a new musical genre; walrus-rock, where all the songs are ruined by a chorus of arctic creatures bawling (we could get them to dress up as penguins to perform live – they’d still be shit, but at least it would be funny). If you remember matey out of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s singing you’re halfway there, just take away their charm and turn his mic up.
But no matter how objectionable the contents are, it’s undeniable that this is an ambitious album. The sizzling walls of feedback which characterised their first effort have been made widescreen, augmented by an assortment of other instruments, and they show a greater enthusiasm for musical experimentation, which leaves them far less reliant on noise alone. EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \ marks a clear evolution from their previous work, but whether the development is positive or not is pretty clear. Much of this ambition falls completely flat; first single The World is Yours aims for the dizzying ‘heights’ of Coldplay, U2 et al, throwing synths and stadium drums with reckless abandon at a self-consciously ‘epic’ chorus, but ends up a confused, lumpen mess which is compounded by the aforementioned bellowing which tends to overshadow much of the record. Guitar-driven You continues the trend, dull chords giving way to saccharine whining; if, as they said recently, it was about ‘getting to know themselves, they must be real bastards.
Even discounting the other factors which make this album such a disappointment, its biggest fault is that the songs simply aren’t there. In dicking around with new toys and new ideas, Glasvegas seem to have forgotten to include much that actually resembles a tune – sure, we have instruments, we have structure, and we have vocals (allegedly), but none of it makes a conducive effort to come together as anything proper, each track meandering along without direction until it just about makes it to the four minute mark before giving up. There is nothing here that could conceivably be hummed in the shower, and gone are the stadium terrace anthems of Go Square Go and Daddy’s Gone which once made them stand out; that wouldn’t be a problem if they’d replaced them with something, anything of any musical value, but there it sadly lacks. To think of something meaningful to say about it at all I’ve had to have it on repeat for days, but it’s still falling out of my head the minute I turn it off – this could be Glasvegas’ Metal Machine Music. Shame it’s by accident.