It was always going to be an uphill battle for Glasvegas, who painlessly catapulted to success following a mammoth debut back in 2008. Famed for their epic soundscapes and atmospheric shoegaze, the band seem to have forgotten how exactly they achieved their prosperity, making Later… When The TV Turns To Static a clawing attempt to retain something now out of their grasp.
Yet there are moments of self-indulgent bliss, achieved through an interesting (and occasionally chaotic) variation of instrumental sounds. Later… is certainly an album that is best enjoyed solo. Things start comfortably, and the album opener – which shares its name with the album title – is a solid start and typically “Glasvegas” in its sound. Anthem-like and melodramatic, we can picture this performed on stage, illuminated by dazzling white lights and concluded atmospherically with its 50-second acoustic close.
Perhaps rather subjectively, though, it’s James Allan’s Glaswegian accentuated vocals that occasionally destroy the record. Through not fault of his own, his lyrics are often difficult to transcribe, and the yodeling vocals become irritatingly distracting at times. This is best exemplified in the first single to be lifted from the album, “I’d Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)”. The wavering vocals and revolting spoken middle section of this track detract from its rather charming piano accompaniment.
You can see what the band is trying to do here, though; after all, things would get tiresome if Glasvegas produced anthem after anthem. Throughout the midsection of Later… we see them exploring new techniques, attempting to progress their sound. On occasions it works, but on others it’s vacantly disjointed. “Choices” and “Neon Bedroom” are euphonious ballads that are pleasantly charming but never quite manage to achieve that poignant high impact factor. “All I Want Is My Baby” is quite the contrast, its harsh vocals angrily articulated through a thick Scottish dialect that irritates from the offset.
There are, however, moments of glory. “Secret Truth” is the biggest achievement on the album, its innovative soundscape recalling some of the newer Muse material. Additionally, “If”, the second single to be lifted from Later…, is successful at capturing a more mainstream aspect to the band’s iconic sound by avoiding the nu-gaze, albeit making it that little bit more uninspiring.
Closing track “Finished Sympathy” sums up the album perfectly, building up to moments of greatness before being destroyed by messy follow-ups. Following an Arcade Fire inspired opening – one that is arguably reminiscent of the opening to “Rebellion” – the track gets off to a great start, slowly building to that awe-inspiring moment of epiphany. Yet a ridiculous coda follows in which manipulated Wurlitzer-sounding synthesizer brings the album to a discordant close.
Ok, the album doesn’t quite work, but you’ve got to applaud the band for their individuality, for their ability to bring a typically non-mainstream genre to mass attention: a feature that Later… will just about achieve.