Between the echoey production of its self-titled debut and drummer Caroline McKay's big-beat timekeeping, Glasvegas reflects the influence of fellow Scots and noise-pop patron saints the Jesus and Mary Chain. (Of course it doesn't hurt that Creation Records majordomo and former Jesus and Mary Chain manager Alan McGee was an early Glasvegas supporter.) Fronted by former semipro footballer James Allan, the rough-and-tumble blue-collar quartet has a penchant for girl-group harmonies not unlike the Chain. But rather than going all working-class and singing about tipping back pints and getting into scraps, Glasvegas ends up showcasing a knack for storytelling.
There's the social worker at the heart of "Geraldine" (a song that snatches a few riffs from the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Head On"), the crescendoing wall-of-guitar that punctuates the anticipation of a young boy ready to duke it out with a bully on "Go Square Go," and the Shangri-Las-like "whoa whoas" and cadences of "Flowers and Football Tops," which are an odd fit on this true-life tale of a murdered Scottish teen. Elsewhere, an unexpected degree of vulnerability is readily shared, whether it's by a weepy scoundrel of a boyfriend (the anthemic "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry") or a son who's lost his pop ("Daddy's Gone," with its "My Boyfriend's Back" arrangement).
But while it's intriguing to hear Allan lose his burr while wailing in a falsetto on the latter cut about forgetting his da, he's gone amid well-placed tambourine accompaniment and layered riffs that practically beg for Phil Spector comparisons, there's a sameness that bleeds into this material. It's almost as if the serious sense of purpose Glasvegas emotes finds it unable to get out of first gear, which only succeeds in the band defining itself as Jesus and Mary Chain lite. (Columbia)
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