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Irish outfit Glimmermen have returned with their long-awaited third album, Here I Stand. Do I like the album? Yes. Is it perfect? Not quite. The sound carries a new wave feel throughout. Though it often reminds me of the likes of Thin Lizzy, Joy Division, David Bowie, Earth, Wind & Fire and Ennio Morricone as well. Quite a diverse mix.
The musicianship here is just excellent, I don’t think I can emphasise the group’s talent enough. The bass holds at that perfect level where it’s not too loud and not too quiet. The drums had me tapping my feet and air drumming. The guitar, undoubtedly the highlight of the record, just blew me away, adapting to each style with ease. ‘It’s nice’, a doo-wop song, delivers some of the prettiest moments on Here I Stand, but the guitar really shines towards the end of the album. In the closing stages, it shifts between short, sweet solos and dystopian, depressing ambient soundscapes.
The songwriting is stellar too, dealing with common themes of love and loss. The vocals get better as the album progresses, the singer reminding me of Chris Martin and Phil Lynott at different points. Like the guitarist, he really shines on the latter half of the album, thriving in the harder, punkier environment of ‘Dream Engine’. The brass, though unexpected, is an essential component of Glimmermen’s sound. I can’t imagine Here I Stand without it. The grittiness of ‘Dream Engine’, the ambience of ‘Sleep Walkin’, and the dreamy ‘Long Hot Summer’ are the three standout moments here.
As good as this LP is overall, there are some flaws. I often found myself thinking the songs needed a lot more energy vocally, especially in the first half of the album. This is frustrating, given the singer’s obvious talent, but I’d like a different approach on certain tracks. The biggest problem for me was the use of “la la la, da da das” on ‘Long Hot Summer’. That style of vocal appears on some other tracks as well. When it’s done right, it’s okay, but in this case, it wasn’t.
Both musically and lyrically, a few of the earlier tracks are quite generic. They’re okay, but compared to the second half of the album, not in the same league. Harmonies between the male singer and female backing singer crop up a couple of times but don’t quite gel for me.
Now, back to the positives. Structurally, the songs are well-crafted, building steadily and peaking at just the right moments. (Side note: I believe I heard some cowbell on this record, almost bringing a tear to my eye). Ultimately, the seamless transitions between styles really make the album for me. Glimmermen delicately balance the upbeat, the borderline apocalyptic, and the melancholic, in their music.
Glimmermen are quite the group, their talent appearing infinite and, though the album isn’t perfect, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Here I Stand eclipsed my expectations. I went in uncertain, but in the end, I left a fan. I genuinely feel you will too.
Here I Stand arrives on November 9, via Grey Slate Records, and is only available on vinyl.