The Gus Glynn Band have been a welcome staple of the North West Music scene for some time now, having built up a following (and reputation) for their unwaveringly original tack and library of sharp pop songs. With echoes (no pun intended) of Elvis Costello and The Attractions, The Bluetones and James’ Tim Booth amongst others, the band have released their latest offering, recorded and mixed by Mike Bennett at FoxHound Studios in leafy Cheshire.
Getting straight down to business, they set out their stall with some intent, powering open the album with ‘Natalie’, a perfect paean to a (seemingly) significant love. The arrangement is tight, as are the band, delivering a punchy pop song (a term I will return to many times during this review I think) with plenty of bite (yes, I know, it rhymes…get me). This is definitely a single. It’s crisp, to the point and the subtly brilliant outro brought a smile to my face.
They then give us time to regroup as they lull us into a slightly more relaxed frame, allowing the ‘light to shine down on me’ in the outro of ‘Letting the Light’. Here the band conveys something more of a ‘late night’ vibe in an old smoky venue. You know the one, back in the day with couples sat at dimly lit tables and the band propped on the stage in the corner, suited and slightly dishevelled, coaxing sounds out of vintage gear and awaiting the end of the night and the final pay off.
Such smoke and Cohen-esque ‘sighing’ is soon dispelled as the grungier ‘Wormholes’ glides into view. This features a key tribal drum pattern (provided by the tasteful Simon Cornes on kit) which anchors the track, giving the slightly fifties foil of Gus’ guitar part a nicely contrasting bed. This guitar treatment repeats in the song’s bridge and is given obvious airtime in the solo at the end of the song to great effect.
‘Karma Kings’ turns us all slightly Japanese with another pushy drum part, running in tandem with the two guitars. Pete Attwood covers the bass in the band and in this track his choice of part leaves the rhythm iron-clad and allows Gus to solo without any loss of forward motion.
There is no let up here as with push through the leanly arranged pop-punk-punch (try saying that after a thimble of Absinthe) of ‘No Zone’ (with no colouring outside the lines please) and then onto a considered pause, where gentle brakes are applied and we are led into the lower key and heartfelt ‘Undone’. The simple guitar and vocal treatment at the start coupled with the rest of the bands’ addition later in the song, yields an outwardly understated, yet skilfully executed song.
Next a slight left turn brings us to the raunchy country blues feel of ‘Old Songs’ where Gus gets to stretch his guitar chops a little more, delivering an achingly lovelorn number, chock full of pathos. The recording and mixing really stood out on this, conjuring a smoky (again), personal and almost ‘woody’ feel to the track possibly speaking volumes about the room in which it was captured.
The band may harken to a time of falling back on ‘Old Songs’ and in the lyrics of that song one could assume that they got to experience ‘Heady Love’. With no calls for ‘more cowbell’, this taught and pushy song reminds us again of the style that the band have and their consummate sharpness. This feel continues through the purposely lyrically glib ‘Wash Your Million Dollars’ and ready’s the curtain for the title track of the album.
‘Echo the Hollow’ is another fully formed single, with perfect bounce, a ripping guitar solo and a strong melody. It even provides the oft lamented ‘sing-along’ chorus, although one may assume that the band did not set out to write it that way.
I would not be surprised if this doesn’t become a requested live staple with their fan base as a result. It’s a great set closer being ‘up all night’ as it is and presents the listener with a definitively adept and accomplished pop package.
It is difficult to follow such a strong track and placing songs within albums is a tricky and much misunderstood art. You can either try to tap the similar vein (and set oneself up for failure possibly) or look for an alternative seam (the path of least resistance). The band in this case wind themselves away successfully with the breezy ‘Northern Soul’ with it’s catchy melody being circled with a narrative lyric. It is subtle and understated and it’s maybe because of this that it has become one of my favourite songs on the LP.
‘Moving’ on from the North we gravitate to the albums closer and my absolute favourite, ‘Nobody Sayin’. This isn’t what we were offered at the start, it being somewhat melancholy and softer than the band’s ‘singles’ of ‘Natalie’ and ‘Echo the Hollow’, but in this way we are left with a gentle and perfect full stop. It’s the track that, without fuss, switches the lights off and closes the door behind you.
And with that I may venture that you would do well to go and see the band live for more of the same and possibly ask them if ‘Nobody Sayin’ could be put in the set tonight, just to sate one reviewer sat at the back behind the brick pillar nursing a lemonade.