3 out of 5
Label: Beggar’s Banquet
Produced by: Charles Bennington, Geoff Turner
As Girls Against Boys submerged further into their identity as self-aware post-rock barflies, peaking – in various ways – with the addition of major label gloss and LA emptiness on Freak*On*Ica, Scott and Johnny found their way to some other DC players (Nick Pellicciotto, Charles Bennington) and sideways slinked back to a stripped down, raw sound with New Wet Kojak. NWK embraced the smoky and sultry side of GVSB’s riff-heavy stomp, adding a sprinkle of dirty jazz in there and sticking exclusively – at first – to the late-night vibe of Venus Luxure and Cruise Yourself.
But the Freak*On*Ica sparkle found its way to Kojak as well: the group jumped to Beggars Banquet; started including more electronic elements; started cleaning up their sound. And This Is The Glamorous – perhaps ironically, given that title – is the peak of that, with its 11 tracks almost wholly given over to an accessible, poppy sound that would’ve / could’ve easily played as a set of radio singles. McCloud’s lyrics stumble on a line between his classic, nonchalant snark – one liners that sound cool but are also taking the piss out of that coolness – and thoughts that fall short of that mark and just sound silly. The pleasingly sloppy horns and loose rhythm section are tightened up; an electronic sheen to the production truly transforming the band’s effect: you don’t sway and bob to this anymore, you dance.
This Is the Glamorous, for most intents and purposes, is a “good” album in the sense that’s it’s catchy, and each song has a hook. But that catchiness is also at the expense of some element of uniqueness, or emotion; it’s a very empty-headed listen. …That then comes alive right when it’s heading out, with the last few tracks allowing for a more organic, aggressive combination of its elements. Sequencing has seemed purposeful on various GVDB / NWK releases, so I wouldn’t consider this an accident; it is nevertheless too bad that we weren’t able to find out how this last minute reprieve could’ve evolved on a following album, leaving us with this funky, if immemorable picture as the groups final release.