By taking cues from “shoegaze kingpins” My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Guided By Voices, on paper, core band member Corey Coffman won’t gain any marks for originality but his Gleemer project is all about the unique spin he puts on those influences. His second album has surprises aplenty.
‘Holyland’ begins proceedings in apocalyptic fashion with a cacophony of air raid sirens and walls of effects. This is a record where songs mutate halfway through and turn into something completely unexpected. ‘Weekend Sisters’ starts off as typical shoegaze but then appeals to earthier tastes with brass instruments making an incongruous entrance whilst ‘Track And Field’ is infectious and incisive initially but then slows down to atmospheric rock. Then the effects are stripped right back for ‘Midnight Streetlight’ as the echoes make their mark with a spare intimacy.
Elsewhere, Coffman’s Howard Devoto-esque vocals cut into every word and on tracks such as the eerie ‘Tooms’ (“And the girls begin to wash my eyes”), the technique works wonders and he reveals a sensitive side on ‘Honeybear Part II’ (“And you’re trying hard to reach your family”). It’s testament to the frontman’s confidence that hook-heavy highlight ‘Ghost Dancer’ is reserved as the penultimate track. The song balances steely, low-slung guitars with Coffman’s brooding and snarling, where even the extended coda (the song lasts for an energy-sapping ten minutes) is a forgivable indulgence.
In the end, ‘Holyland USA’ doesn’t really sound like MBV or GBV, because Coffman and his band have their own voice. This is a compelling album which takes on an unfashionable genre and distorts it into something modern and exciting.
I Used To Be A Sparrow, Deerhunter, The Big Pink