Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Glaswegian indie rockers Glasvegas unveil hyper-emotive new album Godspeed

Glasvegas changed people’s whole perception of what stadium-friendly indie music is. Reminiscent of synth-centric stadium bands like Simple Minds the band put anthem sounds with acoustic melodies fearlessly.

Tracks “Geraldine” and “Daddy’s Gone” from their 2008 platinum-selling self-titled album oozed the word “anthem” from every note and redefined what British indie rock could be beyond distorted guitars and excessive drug-taking.


Glasvegas write personal drama in a way that feels relevant to each listener and never more so than in the hyper-emotive GodspeedGodspeed is the product of three albums worth of evolution and seven years worth of production time and shows that they are a band that firmly knows their place.


“Parked Cars (Exterior)” begins the band's fourth record with an ambient intro. In just forty seconds the song leads us quietly in then jumps aggressively into “Dive” a second track with would fit perfectly into the soundtrack of a Netflix crime drama. Lead singer James Allan’s distinctive Glaswegian vocals tear through the album with authority and emotion from the moment we hear “Dive”.


“Dive” is dominated by its notable guitar riff that leads us through the chorus with ambitious intent where it is hard to decipher synth or guitar but either way it completes this track. The track sets the tone for the rest of the album by showing us the aggressive melodrama that is in store for us.


If James Allan was an Englishman following track “Dying to Live” could have come from Idles. The bass rumbles beneath a warm grit giving the track a distorted feel usually seen in the punk-eqsue regions of indie rock. However, Allan’s vocal stands against this with slight distortion while keeping an airy and anthemic feel that we now consider a signature Glasvegas sound.


Track four “Shake the Cage (fur Theo)” feels like a break in the album's pace. The song is a back-and-forth conversation between a space station and a controller with a brilliantly futuristic reference to the “Choose Life” scene from Trainspotting. With a cyberpunk feel this track challenges the feelings of dystopia throughout the record with consistent arpeggio patterns and subtly spoken lyrics.


This is Glasvegas at their most playful and oozing freedom. “Shake the Cage (fur Theo)” also features in new Alan McGee biopic Creation Stories cementing their place in the world of British indie rock.


Closing out the first half of the album the band’s first single in seven years Keep Me a Space is the most ballad-like track. Dedicated to a grieving relative the song is more soothing and accepting than those heard previously. It is compositionally simpler than other tracks with a simple melody driving and leaving the true power to the lyrics, particularly when Allan delivers the lines:

“Nothing lasts forever,

Some people say,

All things must pass,

I don't feel these ways”

Keep Me a Space is a track longing to be reunited with its subject.

The perfectly placed interlude “Parked Car (Interior)” doesn’t feel like its own individual track and instead feels as if the band chopped up seventh track “Cupid’s Dark Disco during production. After the emotionally driven concept of “Keep Me a Space” this interlude serves to bring the listener back full circle to get them ready for the slower and more grounded second half of melodrama brilliance.

“Cupid’s Dark Disco” begins the intimate second half, detailing an extra-marital affair and the thoughts and scenarios that often occur throughout. The sounds are powerful and constantly building through gritty tones that reach a conclusion that never appears, perhaps serving as a metaphor for the “rush” of engaging in extra-marital affairs that so often lead to disaster.

The beautifully melodic eighth track “My Body Is a Glasshouse (A Thousand Stones Ago)” explores the thoughts of a young prostitute while delving into the treatment of sex workers in society. The story details the dangerous environment sex workers work in for instance in the very first verse we endure the powerful lyrics that are telling of the common abusive treatment they receive:

“If you want my love for your money,

At my ankles my clothes, my knees on the floor,

My innocence literally a footnote,

My soul scattered somewhere below”

The lyrics hold powerful accusations to the people who abuse sex workers, and this track is built around confronting the injustices that are so common in this industry. “My Body Is a Glasshouse (A Thousand Stones Ago)” sounds exactly like you’d expect a Glasvegas track to sound and would fit perfectly on any of their earlier albums as well as it does on Godspeed.

“In My Mirror is another classic Glasvegas track but with the new chaotic arrangement and vocal pattern not seen yet on this album. Powerful drumbeats and repeating snares take precedence over everything while awaiting the lyrics which resemble an identity crisis in motion.


As the track progresses they are constantly figuring themselves out and examining themselves in the mirror seeing a stranger until they eventually find themselves at the tracks close. The song explores depression and the inability to feel like yourself that slowly takes over, a main symptom of depression.


Next up is “Stay Lit”, a seemingly casual waltz yet again so different in style to other tracks up to this point. Mellow guitar instrumental serves to slow the album down in preparation for the album's end, perfectly setting the moon for the grand finale “Godspeed”.


On “Godspeed” Allan sounds more emotionally driven than he has ever been while piercing through the organ-backed track. Allan serenades every track that came before and closes out the album with a crescendo of anthemic pain that concludes the themes of each song, all of which are described as having taken place during one night as the sunsets.


“Godspeed” is a beautifully written epilogue reminding us of what Glasvegas do best, anthemic tracks teeming with deep and personal emotion.

Glasvegas are a band with a lot to give and if their album progression is to continue at the same rate this is definitely an exciting time for fans of the Glaswegian trio.


“Godspeed” is available to stream on all major music platforms and available to buy in vinyl and CD formats from the Glasvegas online store:

Glasvegas will return to touring in February 2022 with the following dates lined up:

3 – Holmfirth, Picturedrome

4 – Leeds, Warehouse

5 – Liverpool, O2 Academy 2

7 – Birmingham, Asylum

8 – Brighton, Chalk

9 – London, Garage

11 – Reading, Sub89

12 – Bristol, Thekla

13 – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

15 – Manchester, Gorilla

16 – Sheffield, Foundry

17 – Newcastle, Students Union

24 – Glasgow, SWG3

Mark Attwood


Image: Godspeed (Glasvegas album) - Wikipedia


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