It’s difficult to say whether Later…When the TV Turns to Static is overly ambitious or too little so. This third album from the Glasgow quartet Glasvegas is the band’s first release with their new label BMG. Glasvegas burst into the indie rock scene in 2008 with their debut self-titled album, which hit platinum and earned the group comparisons to the likes of The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys. But the band changed directions for their grandiose sophomore release Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ in 2011, aiming for a big, bombastic sound rife with universalist anthems and overwrought production. Unfortunately, Later… languishes in this same aesthetic.
The album begins with the heavy-handed title track, with a low, steady bass and muted percussion backing vocalist James Allan’s droll rasp. The song purports to build slowly into a cinematic anthem, adding light “oh-ooh” vocals and gradually picking up the tempo. But for all the posturing and layering on of muffled, reverb-drenched guitars, the climactic point is simply anti-climactic.
“Youngblood” picks up the pace, broaching the subject of lost youthful love, where “the ghost of you and me / [is] still haunting away.” Allan’s monotonous vocal style does little for the song’s emotional import, and musically, the song takes no chances. The heavy guitars and pulsing bass sound like a post-rock meditation, but Glasvegas just isn’t that kind of band. On “All I Want Is My Baby,” Allan rants about social hypocrisy and the greediness of capitalism. “It’s all about the money / I hope it makes you happy,” he growls in the biting banner-bearing anthem. And while there’s certainly feeling behind the angry façade, the song falls flat. “I’d Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)” is likewise another scathing, unenlightening condemnation, this time of a significant other, couched in a beautifully out-of-place classical piano melody. “If” serves as a rare, catchy refresher late in the album, with a hooky melody and jaunty marching bass line, but it’s rather too little too late.
For a band that showed so much promise, Glasvegas allow themselves to stagnate on Later…When the TV Turns to Static. The album slips by without imprinting itself on your memory, much like the endless infomercials and silent old films that play in the dark hours of the night. On the piano ballad “Choices,” Allan drones, over and over, “I still have choices.” Here’s to hoping for rejuvenation and some different choices the next time around.