I’ve got quite a few things to say about Glasvegas, just before we begin. Firstly, reading NME – a magazine who rarely puts a foot wrong when it comes to predicting the next big rock and pop bands – compare them to The Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys – “If The Libertines defined the start of the decade and the Arctic Monkeys it’s middle, then Glasvegas are most certainly going to define it’s end and beyond”. It’s quite a challenging declaration to swallow, because as a band in their own right, Glasvegas always been very hit and miss with me, personally.
My main gripe though is the comparisons with The Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys. The only comparison I can draw between the Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines and Glasvegas is that all three lead singers have very ropey vocals. Another thing that I don’t quite understand is that The Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys both rely on the punk-orientated rock revival genre for their signature sound whereas Glasvegas have used synthesisers and the like to achieve a certain sonic, surrealist feel, almost like the stadium rock-esque sound more commonly associated with U2. Although I suppose, if you’re being picky, you could say the biggest comparison between the three bands is their pretentiousness; pretentiousness to the point where Glasvegas think they can get away with an album title like: ‘EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\’.
This isn’t to say I don’t like Glasvegas, as I do like a lot of their seemingly more original material, but I feel their influences lie outside NME’s suggestions.
Anyway, onto reviewing the Scottish band’s new single, and the lead single from their sophomore album. ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’, is a slightly poppier effort than what was commonplace on the band’s first album, the eponymous, ‘Glasvegas’. But lead singer James Allan still takes time out of singing on the record for the rest of the band to add a monster riff, usually sounding far too similar to some obscure track for comfort, before whining tunelessly over a stadium-sized backing for the chorus. So you could still say that whilst their sound had altered a little, their structure is still very reminiscent of that on their first album.
But wait, what is the target of pillage for ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’s riff, I hear you ask? Well, once James’ insufferable vox falto-ing has finished, at about 0:30, Brian Eno and Chris Martin are rubbing their hands with glee as it seems, accidentally or purposefully, Glasvegas have stolen Coldplay’s ‘Life In Technicolor ii’ riff and placed it into this song. Only this time we hear the riff on an electric guitar and in a different key, rather than a yangqin.
Moving on from that, James’ voice is more out-of-tune than it ever has been. Now, I understand that with music Glasvegas deal in, it’s not so much about how you sing: it is more of a case of what you sing that gives you merit. However, the lyrics to ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’ are, in the simplest of forms, nothing special at all. “Your ways, my ways/Never always/The future, the past/The first, the last” are all that listeners with enough sanity to try and decode what James is wailing about (without being tempted to use a Search Engine) are going to be treated to.
It’s not Glasvegas’ best, that’s as good as set in stone after just one listen (‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’ is their best, in my opinion), and it’s by no means a good indicator of progression from their last record, either, despite there being a more prominent indicator of them trying to achieve a sort of post-anthemic vibe.
Here’s the video: As if the band couldn’t get more pretentious – James has only gone and bought a pair of rounded, shaded spectacles… for indoor use.
In fact, thinking about it more, I’d go so far as to say that main riff has glaring similarities of Joe McElderry’s ‘Someone Wake Me Up’ in it.
I suppose that, to a non-Glasvegas fan, or even to a casual listener, this song, and indeed, most other Glasvegas songs, would be so much better and so much more enjoyable if only James had learnt to sing without a blatantly obvious Glaswegian accent. And, as the majority of people might not have heard of tracks as obscure as ‘Life In Technicolor ii’, after all, it’s not Coldplay’s biggest hit (it only managed a lowly charting at #28 when released). So it could be that this song is very good to some listeners. But to fans and lovers of this genre, Glasvegas just aren’t delivering the goods some of their previous singles have supplied. As scarce as the quality was, at least it was definitely there.
Rating: 2.0 STARS
Download: March 28, 2011 (OUT NOW)
Featured Album: ‘EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\’