Hit or Gliss? A review of the L.A. Shoegazers' 'Langsom Dans'
Gliss have been treading the boards for around ten years now, plugging away in the studio and ending up with a few well received albums...
'Langsom Dans' by Gliss (out now on Modern Outsider)
... Well received by one person in particular, a certain Mr Billy Corgan who has asked them on numerous times to support the tours of both his solo work and that of the Smashing Pumpkins’ reformation several years ago. They appear to be doing everything right in terms of the sound that they’re trying to achieve and the audience they are trying to entice, enlisting the help of some-time Depeche Mode producer Gareth Jones and appearing on cooler-than-thou radio show, KCRW’s esteemed ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’. This album – their fourth full-length – is currently on the shelves courtesy of Modern Outsider.
‘Langsom Dans’ kicks off with ‘Blood On My Hands’, with the intro comprising of the most simplistic synth and drumbeat (the longer the note, the more dread) and tear-at-the-heartstrings vocals. The slow-tempo makes for a somewhat uncomfortable listen for an opening track – certainly not one to get the blood pumping and have you chomping at the bit for more. There is a hint of light at the end of the tunnel with a more uplifting mid-section, but we fade out to nothingness; time to up the ante, right? Well, no. There’s an element of The Knife / Fever Ray with ‘A to B’; the vocals flit between vocalists Victoria Cecilia and Martin Klingman through the verses before they join in unison for the chorus. It’s all pretty uninspiring though. There’s no tempo change, no immediate sign of a key change; hell, at one point you’re wondering if we’re going to progress from one note. So far, so ethereal and dreamy from a vocal and lyrical perspective, but there's not an awful lot to be said about the music that lies underneath. There are bands out there who add an extra element to all of this (look at Phantogram, M83 for instance); let's delve into the album a little further and see what we can find! With 'Into The Water' there is at least an attempt to add a little bit of variation to the proceedings, with the bpm possibly exceeding 100 for the first time. The main issue though, is that it doesn't really do much else. Four minutes later and you're still waiting for there to be something that will make the song memorable... and thus we quite literally plod onto 'Weight Of Love'. Hmmm... maybe I should be listening to this on a rainy Sunday afternoon - it has 'Ambient Chill' practically written all over it. Even then however, I would still be struggling to find anything new or worth coming back to with the opening quartet - surely not the best gameplan, Gliss? Things do perk up however, by the time we enter the second half of the album with lead-single 'Waves'. It is totally understandable why this was chosen as a single in its own right as it simply
does an awful lot more than everything that precedes it. We have strings (albeit electronic-sounding ones), a good, heavy thumping bassline and something a lot more interesting in terms of song structure. Way too glossily produced to approach anything as seminal as early My Bloody Valentine (which I'm pretty sure is where they're going with it), but still good nonetheless. This form continues in the shape of 'The Sea Tonight'; despite it still being indie-paint-by-numbers in terms of how the song has been written, it's still a nice, catchy tune; effortless, one might say - though how you define it is entirely up to you. You only have to look at the names of some of the remaining tracks to figure out what's coming next. 'Through The Mist', 'In Heaven' and 'Kite In The Sky' sound almost uncannily like shades of paint and to further this rather weak metaphor, they do exactly what they say on the tin. Reverting back to the slower, blissed-out numbers that made up most of the opening half of the record, 'Langsom Dans' leaves this listener rather weary and in no mood to repeat the experience any time soon. It's quite difficult to explain how one feels about this sort of album. It has so, so much potential but the band just seem to have rocked up to the studio already lacking the ideas for any quirks or... just...
to make this a positive, memorable experience. The band has been often compared to the likes of Silversun Pickups and M83, and the lights are most definitely on but they shine nowhere near as bright as their contemporaries.