REVIEW: Gliss - Pale Reflections

Will Shenton

Thank god music with the suffix "-wave" is cool again. I don't know what I'd do if my generation ended up embracing our oft-touted Millennial optimism without at least a hint of mopey self-doubt. I guess I'd write a shoegaze song about it.

But down-tempo fuzz is no longer the whole story. Though previous generations could get by on consistent wallowing, us modern folks are nothing if not easily bored. We crave the melding and expansion of styles (perhaps to a fault, as the last ten years spawned so many obscure genre names that most became all but meaningless). I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to find that German art-pop group Gliss' new record wasn't afraid to delve into rock and even dance as much as it threw back to the melancholy jams of old.

Gliss' latest effort subverts the assumption that anything arty will necessarily be difficult to grapple with. We've all come across those albums that we think are great, but we have to be in the mood for them and thus they quickly fade into the dusty corners of our libraries. Pale Reflections, on the other hand, grabs you by the collar and shouts in your face.  It demands attention and refuses to acquiesce as background music.

This is, I think, a simple result of the fact that every song has a hell of a lot of punch. On my first listen I found myself wanting to call Pale Reflections a shoegaze album, but while Gliss certainly draws from the genre I wouldn't say they necessarily belong to it. Theirs is a sound with more explicit focal points and hooks than the droning walls of sound of the '80s and '90s, and that keeps things interesting.

Regardless of what you want to call it, new wave or darkwave or post-shoe post-wave dark gaze or just, you know, art rock, Pale Reflections is a fantastic record. Gliss are at their best, and they manage to channel that mopey angst we all know and love without getting too self-indulgent. They're aware of their audience, and sometimes that audience wants to rock the fuck out. Lucky for us, they're more than happy to oblige.