Glasvegas, 'Glasvegas' (Columbia)

8
Glasvegas
Critical Mass
Label: Columbia

by David Peisner

Lads. Yobs. Scallies. Neds. In Britain, a culture has grown up around urban, working-class white guys that's almost religious in its fervor. Its sacraments are boozing, brawling, and "chasing birds"; its churches are the pub and the football terrace; and its patron saints are the Gallagher brothers. But as distasteful as many find the hard-man bravado that drives the Low Church of Laddism, it's hard to deny its fleshy, beating heart.

Glasgow quartet Glasvegas are a product of this world -- frontman James Allan is even a former semipro footballer -- and their remarkable debut gives voice to its fears, frustrations, and heartaches without succumbing to its clichés. Whether spinning heroic tales of diligent social workers ("Geraldine"), zeroing in on the churning terror of a playground punch-up ("Go Square Go"), or lamenting the father who wasn't there ("Daddy's Gone"), Allen consistently employs his resonant Scottish burr to transform the small-bore details of hardscrabble young lives into grand epics.

He's greatly helped by the band's tsunami of guitar noise, which clearly traces to Phil Spector, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Oasis. But the album's emotional centerpiece, "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry" -- a jaw-dropping "crescendo of demise" (as Allen puts it), which examines the demons infidelity unleashes -- proves that Glasvegas are more committed masochists than those guys ever were.

Listen: Glasvegas, "Daddy's Gone"

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