Album Review

Shadows Explode

Shadows Explode

by The Gladeyes


Lil' Chief Records
8.8 / 10
9th May 2011

Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam


Damn you Gladeyes. You had to go and produce a second killer album, and then announce your retirement. That final live-show in Wellington was as good as the band has been live: I suppose the end is something that frequently provokes something passionate. The lo-fi Auckland duo’s debut album was a wonderful blend of pop melodies and noisy scratching s underneath. It had a much harder edge than it was given credit for – maybe the characters and fictional elements assisted in downplaying its toughness - but their second, Shadows Explode, feels much more emotionally and lyrically direct. It also features another batch of great songs.

It’s almost perfectly structured from the gentle strumming in ‘Honey Pie’ to that final explosion in ‘Exploding’. ‘Honey Pie’ starts off with so much heartache, that you wonder if the album was really going to make it. It’s a gentle buildup of a gorgeous melody. The segue into ‘Harold’ works well, the song a little perkier in sound with its harmonies and ringing guitarwork – but the lyrics are still stuck in loss. ‘Your Fool’ is another highlight, murky lo-fi shoegazer-y guitars and thwarted love. The intro to ‘Circles’ initially sounded like the Built to Spill’s ‘Velvet Waltz’, but the lo-fi goodness of that track takes over. The upbeat and sunny sounding ‘Underwater’ manages to subvert its lyrics by its chipper and oh-so-catchy melody. It’s one of the absolute highlights of the album, and a song that remains stuck in your head for days.

‘Short Stays Long Curls’ on the other hand is perhaps the album’s most naked song. The vocal performance has an eerie echo to it, and the lyrics almost direct to the point of uncomfortableness – ‘go on, break my heart’ could easily have come across as trite, but the end result is anything but. ‘We’ve Got It All’ is another cracker: genius harmonies and that great tension between a pop melodies and melancholy lyrics. ‘Misty Sky – Blue Skies’ and ‘Carols and Parties’ almost feel a little like filler between ‘We’ve Got It All’ and the explosive finale , but they’re fine nonetheless. ‘Exploding’ is a noisy finale and a fitting conclusion. For a band who straddle between pop and lo-fi noise, it seemed fitting that the album progressed from pure melody to an almost dirty ending. It’s a fierce rejoinder to the album’s melancholy and heartache; and with that, a lo-fi version of the end of things, the band signs off.




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