GLASVEGAS the band speak in a language Glaswegians relate to but is kept at arm’s length by the ruling classes. So in some ways Glasvegas the album is the musical equivalent of John Smeaton.
However, this is not an record about class, it is about real life. Other artists preach to fans with thought-provoking lyrical themes such as soppy man-love, life in a tourbus or, in the case of the new Kaiser Chiefs single, “What do you want for tea? I want crisps”.
Glasvegas singer James Allan writes about a heroic social worker, the pressures of a pre-arranged playground fight, defiance over an absent father, insecurity manifesting itself in rabid jealousy.
It would be easy to misconstrue Allan’s slang delivery as a byword for ned-rock and file next to Oasis and The Stone Roses, especially if the Go Square Go chant of “Here we, here we, here we fuckin’ go” was your only experience of Glasvegas. But that would miss the point entirely. It’s the equivalent of listening to the numpties who call up radio phone-ins with their Old Firm paranoia, or cringing at deluded haggards with teeth stained by 40 years of neglect turning up for The X Factor auditions. It may make us embarrassed or ashamed to be Scottish, but it’s a representation we can readily identify with.
The Glasvegas album has humour and tragedy but, most of all, passion. Allan sings as though his gut is burning with all that’s wrong and right with the world. Flowers And Football Tops, easily the bravest opening song ever heard on a debut album, is a heartbreaking lament written from the perspective of the mother of Kriss Donald, the 15-year-old Glaswegian who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 2004.
The vintage 60s production immerses the music in echo, feedback and reverb, but the key to what makes this album a potential classic is that, at 10 songs long, the little weak material there is has been cleverly relegated to the tail-end, by which time the record’s rare emotional resonance should have left you utterly mesmerised.
Reasons to love Glasvegas: Genuine strike-a-chord emotion, lyrical ingenuity.
Reasons to hate Glasvegas: Over-hyped.
Reasons to ignore Glasvegas: None.
4 Glasvegas – Flowers And Football Tops
4 Glasvegas – Back To Black (Amy Winehouse cover)
b October 18, Moshulu, Aberdeen – Gonzo Tour with Friendly Fires (tickets on sale September 12)
b October 30, The Venue, Dumfries – Tennent’s Mutual gig (tickets on sale September 15)
b October 31, Town Hall, Ayr – Tennent’s Mutual gig with Laura Marling and Malcolm Middleton (tickets on sale September 15)
b December 16, Barrowland, Glasgow (sold out)