Glasvegas hits you on three levels: first, their sound. A soaring, expansive wall of sound, courtesy of three guitars and a few effects pedals. Their songs are big and melodic, with twinges of 1950s rock underneath.
Then, there’s lead singer’s James Allan’s voice. He’s earnest and intense, his voice towering over the music. But he also sounds desperate, and in a way, almost frantic.
Last, the lyrics. At first listen, Glasvegas seems made up of the love and lost type stuff that makes up so much of the catalog of so many indie bands. But when you go back, when you listen again (and maybe rely on a lyric sheet to decipher Allan’s distinctive Scottish burr), all of a sudden it hits you that perhaps there are a few more layers than you initially thought.
“It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry” [Youku video]
It’s not just love and lost he’s talking about. It’s infidelity; it’s shooting yourself in the foot; it’s doing bad things and knowing that they’re bad but doing them anyway. Allan’s lyrics are both selfish and self-critical, which ends up giving them an incredible awareness.
“Daddy’s Gone” [Youku Video]
Still, Glasvegas manages to do much more than just to stagger around in self-pity and dejection. Their songs also reveal an acute understanding of social issues and poverty, violence, loneliness, regret, forgiveness, forgetting the past. They’re dark at times, but many have an underlying implication of hopefulness that comes through despite the bleak surface.
“Geraldine” [Youku Video]
Glasvegas plays Mao Livehouse on Thursday, May 17th, at 8:00 PM.