Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CD Review: GLENN RICHARDS - Glimjack


On Glimjack, the first solo album for Augie March front-dude Glenn Richards, Richards digs a little deeper into the furrow of shy and intelligent indie-rock he’s been happy to occupy since the March’s breathtaking Sunset Studies. While it’s perhaps unfair to judge this effort against that album, Glimjack takes few risks and returns fewer rewards, from the mysteriously unevocative title and inexplicable art deco cover to the unadventurous instrumentation and pedestrian delivery. Lyrics are difficult to discern due to his slightly gruff phrasing and production sounds as rough as the edge Richards would like to add to toughen up what are essentially some lyrically imaginative country rock songs.

Tracks Painter By Numbers and The Love Zoo are as intelligently verbose as some of Richards’ better-known works and will likely be heralded as further examples of brilliance in the genuinely great body of work Richards has amassed. Musically though, it feels he has no inclination to venture beyond jamming lazily with some very talented friends. There’s nothing wrong with this approach and Richards is clearly writing about what he knows, it just seems that his stories, though well told, aren’t very exciting, and neither is Glimjack.

In spite of the above observations, this album does boast fine musicianship from Mike Noga’s sinewy and spot-on drumming and the ever-reliable Dan Luscombe whose guitar gets a chance to stray into new pastures on Long Pigs, Harsh Critic and Glimjack Muttering with exalting results. These moments (reminiscent of Gene Clark’s country-glam masterpiece No Other) are far too rare, the songs too cluttered and Richards’ voice too subdued however, to rescue Glimjack from ambling off into one too many tedious sunsets.

There are so many intimidatingly literate, vehemently anti-ego and prodigiously talented thirty-something men in the Australian music industry, and, it seems, so few have anything new or engaging to say. Sadly, Glimjack only adds to this community radio-ready pile. Many fans of Augie March will regard this as a sincere, heartfelt, and lovingly crafted album, and are unlikely to want Richards to move in a bold new direction. Certainly, take the lyrics themselves as verse and there is a great poet at work, and one who can act as a beacon in the Australian rock landscape, but as an album, these charms are submerged. Words are not enough to make a great album and there is no suggestion that the songs could be better served by anything other than another foray into a country-infused rock. Compile his lyrics into a book and it’s a worthy purchase, but as an album…he’s done, and will probably do, better.

1 comment:

  1. Glimjack is a great album. I'm very excited about it. It seems people are used to being simply entertained by music these days. I have to wonder what people would say about an album like 'Blonde on Blonde' if it were to come out today. I can hear it now..."this is too long, too many words, makes me sleepy, etc..." Glimjack is an album that you have to spend some time with to fully appreciate. It's subtle... something lacking in a lot of music now. The albums greatness slowly unfolds as the songs sink in. And "Jamming lazily"? This is well thought out and well performed music. I have to wonder what's more lazy... writing an album, or writing a review on it?