Glasvegas – EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\
After a successful debut album, a bands second album always come with the expectation of a bigger, more expansive sound designed to propel them into the league of stadium fillers. It’s the natural career progression these days, and when Wall Of Sound exponents Glasvegas revealed they were working with long-time U2 producer Flood it was clear where their ambitions for Euphoric – Heartbreak lay. But while Glasvegas’ new arena-filling pretensions are obvious, the albums real highlights are found in the same heart-rending depiction of real-life emotion that characterised their debut album.
The best example of this is the albums best song, ‘The World Is Yours’. The massive swell of tattoo drums and synths give it a lush anthemic feel, but what will keep you coming back is the brutal impact of James Allan’s personal lyrics, which see him opening himself up completely: “If I’m your world / Then the world if yours”, before the devastating realisation that love is not always a two-way deal: “You dont need me as much as I need you”.
Like their first album, the lyrical themes of Euphoric – Heartbreak centre around the simplest but most affecting human emotions, creating a compelling tableau of the human condition which helps keep the record grounded and accessible amongst the, at times, overbearingly layered and rich production. There’s the deeply personal stuff like ‘Dream Dream Dreaming’s’ narrative between Allan’s father and his dead brother, and the bi-polar shifting of extreme emotions in ‘Euphoria, Take My Hand’ – which hints at Allan’s new-found optimism following last years breakdown. Allan’s mother even features on the album’s closing track ‘Change’ – doling out a touching, if slightly cloying, slice of motherly advice.
As well as concentrating on his familiar themes of inner turmoil and grief, Allan also expands his lyrical horizons on Euphoric – Heartbreak – cementing his place as one of our finest songwriters in the process. ‘Stronger Than Dirt’ and ‘I Feel Wrong’ (subtitled ‘Homosexuality Part 1 and 2’ respectively) see Allan considering the modern troubles of homosexual love – creating a couple of gay anthems that put Lady Gaga’s exploitative posturing well and truly in its place.
While the raw and emotional lyrics are both devastating and beautiful in equal measure, the bold, expansive soundscapes drown them all out for the first two or three listens. It’s only when you manage to tune in to the albums ‘frequency’ that it becomes apparent you’re actually listening to a brilliant band fully in their stride. You also get the feeling this is not yet Glasvegas at their peak, and there could well be a proper masterpiece to come from them in the future.