Big sounds, big voices, big hair: Reviewing Glass Caves’ ‘Alive’
by Katy Holt
It’s the sort of music you can imagine dancing to in a brick walled indie club down some neon-bright city lane. But small and crowded Glass Caves’ debut album ‘Alive’ is not. Big is the theme here: big sounds, big voices, big hair. With just the right amount of moody vocals and drums that sound as though they’re on the brink of popping through your speakers, this is a debut with plenty of bite.
‘Go’ kick-starts the album, treating us to an eruption of frenzied electric guitar and a drum beat as frantic as it is strict. The lead vocal line bounces back and forth between the provocative drawl of the verses and a sudden punch in the chorus. While perhaps offering little in the way of memorable lyrics, the wild energy of the track certainly wakes its listeners up, making the band’s vigour and relentless pace evident from the get-go.
Subsequent tracks ‘Why Stay?’ and ‘Breaking Out’ certainly possess the same quirky memorability as the album’s initial track, the latter reminiscent of something you might find gracing the track listing of a Kodaline record. It’s atmospheric and thrumming all at once, with ethereal backing vocals tossed pleasingly alongside heavy bass and drums.
That’s not to say this mish-mash of styles works for the band every time. The album is fond of distorted guitar riffs and the kind of bombastic drumming we’d usually expect from a heavier rock band. At any rate, it’s rare that we get to hear such a thick, emphatic sound from any band that doesn’t use the word ‘metal’ anywhere on its Facebook page. Sometimes this works – the blend of the heavy and the melodic often creating something unusual and refreshing to the ear. But occasionally tracks seem to get a little lost in the loudness. The album’s seventh track ‘Let Go’ sounds as though it’s unsure even of its own direction, with gritty guitar riffs and a sullen bridge that sound like they’d be more at home on a Guns ‘N Roses album.
“…too often we see a group of lads cannonballing ten soulless three-minuters into existence, whacking a mischievous one-liner over the top as a title, and hoping skinny jeans and hairspray will do the rest of the work. Glass Caves offer something a little different.”
Indie rock is a difficult genre to conquer; too often we see a group of lads cannonballing ten soulless three-minuters into existence, whacking a mischievous one-liner over the top as a title, and hoping skinny jeans and hairspray will do the rest of the work. Glass Caves offer something a little different. While not necessarily breaking any grounds of the genre, or snarling the kind of satirical, smart-arse lyrics that make indie bands such as Arctic Monkeys stand out, there is a rawness – even an element of spontaneity – about ‘Alive’ which sets it apart from your average alt-rock debut. Precise without being too restrained, it is clear this band can play, comprising four talented musicians and song writers. But it would no doubt be refreshing to hear them twist the conventions of their own alt-rock sound even further, or build on the pleasing, almost exotic glimmers heard in tracks like ‘Driving Home’ and ‘Be Together’.
That said, this is an encouraging debut, one which does the York foursome proud. It’s an album which definitely deserves to be heard live if its sound is really to be appreciated in full, but in the mean time it’s available to buy on iTunes.