Alarm bells probably started to sound around Later… When the TV turned to Static when Glasvegas frontman, former footballer, and self-styled people’s poet James Allan opted to record the band’s third album on Pavarotti’s mixing desk, the very bit of kit the late master of the lyric stage recorded his definitive ‘Nessun Dorma’ on – the operatic equivalent of ‘Stairway to Heaven’.
With Later…, Glasvegas have attempted a melancholic fusion of delaysoaked indie rock and grand operatic scale but have unfortunately fallen rather flat. Perhaps it’s relying too much on the shamanistic magic of a dusty collection of old transistors rather than solid songwriting; maybe it's symptomatic of an overriding and premature desire to get back on the horse after an indifferently received second album but for a band with the pedigree of Glasvegas, it’s a decidedly lacklustre effort; more emptily melodramatic and histrionic than it is truly emotive and compelling.
The opener (and title-track) begins solidly enough, but after two minutes of angsty howls (”It’s quiet on the edge of my bed up in the attic”, Allan wails) and fuzzy feedback, the track limps towards its close after five plodding minutes. It’s almost a microcosm of the album as a whole, promising so much and – though making overtures to something more elevated – never quite takes off, a far cry from Glasvegas’ direct and emotionally-devastating debut, with its slaying collection of three-minute atmospheric and intelligent pop-minded indie rock.
After flirting with both the charts and intelligent electronica-tinged introspection on previous releases, it seems that Glasvegas have unfortunately turned into a band that follow rather than lead, aping their contemporaries rather than pushing them.
‘Choices’ and ‘All I Want Is My Baby’ follow the fallen-short opener, Siamese twins of paranoia and toys-out-the-pram pain, before the record’s first rough gem, the My Vitriol-channelling ‘Secret Truth’. The track is one of the few offerings here that raise Later… from a drenched squib to a merely damp one. Eighth track ‘If’ is the only other offering here that allays fears that Glasvegas have given up the ghost altogether, a slab of triumphant festival fare with driving rhythms and a soaring vocal melody. It’s the sole track that gives anything approaching chills as the drums pummel their way to the forefront and Allan lets rip vocally.
Unfortunately, aside from these few relative highlights, Later… pales in comparison to Glasvegas’ previous offerings, among other shortcomings lacking a sense of overarching dynamics. Most bands may be able to pass a collection of tracks such as this under the radar, but then most bands didn’t write tracks as glorious as ‘Geraldine’ from Glasvegas’ debut, or the masterclass in tension and release that is ‘Shine Like Stars’ from 2011’s Euphoric Heartbreak.
Lyrically, Later… veers between juvenile and baffling. Contrived clunkers follow unrefined deadweights and blind lyrical hacking is by in large synonymous with attempts for directness. Sure, you don’t need to have swallowed a thesaurus to be a poet, but consistently resorting to the lowest common denominator of expression won’t help your case.
On reflection, perhaps that mixing desk did pass on a piece of Pavarotti after all. Unfortunately it wasn’t the great man’s genre-defining artistry that was channeled in this record, rather the bloat of his ever-expanding waistline.
5Chris Shipman's Score