The Glands released this album in 2000. I came across it a little after that via good taste. This has been an album that consistently comes into my playlist year after year after year. For me, it’s the perfect album, and one I will listen to for years.
When the alarm bell rings in “Livin Was Easy” you know that you’re in for an awakening. Here we come across the dirty driving guitar work made famous by Built to Spill on Nothing Wrong with Love. Singing about a time when things were easier, Russ Shapiro wins you over on the opening track.
Then comes “Swim.” It’s full of a trouncing piano beat that keeps the pace for the entire song. There’s no choice other than to bob your head with this track. I often use this on mix tapes for friends, and I’ve never heard a complaint.
Suddenly, the pace is flipped up. The band offers a slow burner here in “Mayflower,” which resembles a lot of present day dream pop. The guitar shoots off into the background of the song, as Shapiro slowly soothes you with his voice. Special.
“Lovetown” is up next. It sounds an awful lot like Dear Catastrophe Waitress-era Belle and Sebastian. The difference is that The Glands were here first. Lyrics are kind of sparse here, but the song drives on through, pushing you with the fuzziest of bass lines.
Afterwards, you get the rushing pace of “Straight Down,” which is just a solid rock track. Everything about this song epitomizes what indie pop was all about in the early days, before it got too bogged down with seven member collectives and such.
If you like a little alt-country in your ears, then you can grab hold of “Fortress.” The vocals match every inch of this song–almost as if Shapiro is walking you slowly escorting you through his words. He brings it down just a bit, then blasts straight into “Work It Out.” Everything about this song sounds extremely modern, yet it precedes its own sound.
“Ground” is a song that brings us back to a lot of the dreaminess in pop music. You could leave out the lyrics and still find yourself traveling through this song with ease. I guess a popular way to label this song is to throw out that word ambient. There you go, I did it.
I love “Favorite American.” It’s an acoustic number accompanied by some interesting reverb on the vocals, which give it that dark bubbling effect that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club seem to have perfected. It’s got a political undertone, but it’s one that would only become relevant a few years following the release of the album, so decipher the code.
In the closing three minutes, “Breathe Out” kind of lets me out. It’s not a bad song by any means, it just doesn’t hold up to the rest of the album. There is some light synthesizer that awkwardly keeps track of time, while the vocals just sort of float in midair.
Fans of Grandaddy, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Flaming Lips, Wilco and The Wrens will all find themselves loving this album. You can even say that a lot of those bands followed in the steps of The Glands, but their short-lived career makes it hard to assess their lasting effects.
I know it’s hard to take the words of another man on buying something that you’ve never heard of in your life, or perhaps you have, but take my word here. Go to iTunes and buy this. You will thank me for it later on, or I hope you do.