Glasvegas - Later ... When The TV Turns To Static
Three albums in and Glasvegas have jumped ship from Columbia to BMG, suggesting the industry money hasn't quite given up on them yet, despite a cooler critical reception to 2011's EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \. Oddly, that album reached #1 in the Swedish charts, so there's clearly something about James Allan's 'Wall of Sound' melancholy that sits well during those long, dark Scandinavian winters. Perhaps that shared sense of gloom links the Swedes and Allan's now core constituency: all the lost boys and girls (that he dubs the 'Youngblood') along the M8 corridor and the static estates of Bellshill, Broxburn and Wishaw, "stuck on the edge of (the) bed up in the attic" or in the "correctional facilities" of the mind.
Certainly, there's a earnestness about Glasvegas that is a particularly Scottish trait, alongside a bluntness that some might find awkward. It's evident in the likes of 'All I Want Is My Baby' and its kitchen sink tribulations of kids facing adult issues. "Economic, social and cultural hypocrisy! / It kills me inside to hear about half an hour extra custody!" Allan pleads, and it's almost as silly as it reads and sounds, were it not for the knowledge these words will resonate, somewhere, for better or worse. The piano-led 'I'd Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)' is probably a melodrama too far, but it echoes the heart-on-the-sleeve subject matter of the most maudlin country and western, the genre that plays out nowhere better than Glasgow itself.
Their sonic template has barely changed since day one, although 'Secret Truth' adds some guitar that brings to mind The Smiths' 'Back To The Old House'. There's more reliance on piano this time - which does nothing to diminish the pretension - and, title track aside, a lack of the memorable anthems that defined their breakthrough, but Later ... is self-contained, complete and nowhere near as bad as instinct screams.
Look on Glasvegas as some kind of 'people's band' and they make more sense. They sit alongside acts like the Manics, The Courteeners and (grudgingly) Reverend and the Makers and it gives them a certain immunity: outsiders will never understand their ability to speak to ordinary folk and the reflected committment that comes with it. Scotland hangs onto its artists (sentimentality rears its head again) and you know they will be able to pitch up anywhere north of Hadrian's Wall and find an audience for years to come.