This is one that will have the landlord phoning in a noise-violation complaint. Devotion Implosion is riddled with ungoverned noise, with its three authors and producer Gareth Jones (Wire, Clinic and Erasure) ushering in at all times a reverb-heavy duel between soaring, androgynous vocals and crass guitar feedback. Shoegaze bleariness and ‘90s grunge come together like a Reese’s on Gliss’s second full-length, and because the lyrics don’t always fall into an introspective place, it’s fortunate that they’re coded in delay and deeply buried in clobbering rock.
With Devotion Implosion, Gliss heralds somewhat of a musical shift since 2006’s Love the Virgins. The calling card of an expensive studio bill is very apparent this time around, and the inadequately lit dance floor, low-fidelity sonics of three years ago are swapped out for long-resonating, swampy chords. Gliss seems more obsessed with both garage punk and dark dance rock on its debut LP than on its frequently dizzying follow-up. Virgins’ muddy Velvet Underground tributes and angular efforts stand in stark contrast to the more modern sounds the band assembles on Devotion. It brings to mind former Gliss tourmates Giant Drag and its raw Hearts and Unicorns, particularly “This Isn’t It”, every time Devotion Implosion is fired up—the wiry single-string guitar leads, the doubled vocals that coast out on top of the mess at the chorus—but dissonance isn’t as big a player on Gliss’ record as is the tide of fuzz pedals and delay effects. The other comparatively prominent musical influence at work on Devotion Implosion is one you’ll find yourself thinking of more often than Gliss when you’re sifting through its new batch of songs.
Even an aloof friend, half-listening from down the hall, could capably identify a ludicrous-sized contribution from the Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie-era Smashing Pumpkins output on Gliss’ Devotion Implosion. Nothing here ever nears the quaint front end of the Pumpkins’ “Soma”, though—with the exception of “Beauty”. When the Los Angeles trio peels back for crisp tremolo’d guitars and hand claps, Gliss keeps the levels high and distorted. Deceptively, “Sleep” almost begins as a lullaby that could’ve fit on the “Twilight to Starlight” volume of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, minus the superfluous guitar overdubs. Gliss shows off on “Sleep”, and it executes a mastery of vocal entanglement that it only flirts with on the rest of the record.
Both Martin Klingman and Victoria Cecilia offer a blur of indistinct verses that clouds all ends of Devotion Implosion; with feather-light contributions from each on “Sleep”. Waist deep in echo, the two make it impossible to mentally separate before the gentle rhythmic backdrop gives way to a monster Sabbath-esque onslaught. There’s a similar ruse amid the Blonde Redhead-swirl of “Love Songs”, but “Sleep” is the strongest example. It’s the slowest, most sinister number from the release. Each breath is melodramatically extended for the sections between the verses and chorus, filled out at first by fuzzy octave chords and controlled feedback. It explodes for a grandiose albeit slacker finish with guitar trails lagging far behind everything else, and Klingman taking his sweet time with two of the ten or so words he utters during its entirety: “Souuuuulllll sleeeeeeepaaaaahhhhh”
The powerhouse that opens Devotion Implosion is “Morning Light”, and its massive shadow of impenetrable guitars and syrupy runoff of opaque fuzz and treble hardly guarantees it a spot in anyone’s AM playlist, but this is Gliss at its carefree noise rock best. The band subsequently encounters difficulty in distinguishing it from the hefty dose of influences on its members’ sleeves, but that attribute doesn’t mar “Morning Light” in the slightest. Its hemorrhaging crunch of lazily delivered lyrics and loose, undefined chords aren’t followed up nearly enough on Devotion, but if its counterparts are intended to ruin the early hours of those living down the hall while reminding them to pull Siamese Dream off the shelf, then job well done.
// Notes from the Road
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