By Peter Lindblad
Not as clouded with spacey, nausea-inducing guitar effects as say My Bloody Valentine or Ride, or some of the more otherworldly shoegazer outfits of the ’90s, Kalamazoo, Mich.’s, Glowfriends are more earthbound in their approach.
Possessing sure hooks and transfixing beauty, starry reflections “All Comes Down” and “Bitter Gets Around” make for hypnotic nocturnal wanderings, while it’s easy to get swept up in the powerful urgency, dark currents and tightly wound, serpentine guitar figures of “Distance One” and “Stalemate.”
Built around the kind of firm pop structures that their brethren rarely bothered with, The Glowfriends’ songs display a mastery of the form and function of songcraft. There is an autumnal feel to “January, February,” as if The Glowfriends are anticipating the onset of winter and the loneliness that accompanies it, and “Breaktime Is Over” grows into a heavenly storm that’s bold and dramatic to witness.
It’s hard to get around the fact that the group’s sound, as well as its aesthetic, rings a little too familiar. Once that cynicism is dispensed with, however, what remains are 16 beautifully constructed tracks of impressive sonic tempests and dusky, half-lit atmospheres that glow with just enough incandescence — see “Little Daylight” — to keep from being swallowed by the gathering blackness.
That they explore the fragility of human relationships and the self-destructive emotions that cause them to implode with insight and empathy adds to what was already an intoxicating witch’s brew. www.jamrecordings.com