Cameron Mesirow is an intelligent musician. Yes, the music she makes under the name Glasser is exquisitely crafted, densely layered, and executed with the kind of style and grace many musicians lack. But it’s not just Mesirow’s talent that informs listeners of her apt aural ability. Glasser’s debut, Ring, is filled with the kind of indie-pop pedigree that makes music PR people froth at the mouth. Fans of any chic indie act can find something they love on this solid debut.
Do you enjoy Animal Collective? Try album opener “Apply”, a minimalist jam propelled by a nifty bit of syncopated, tribal-style drumming. Dig Grizzly Bear? Then “Plane Temp”, with its gorgeous vocal harmonies and light instrumental interplay, is where it’s at. Is TV On The Radio on repeat on your iPod? Take a listen to “Glad”, an oddball bit of vocal-focused pop, punctuated by a few funky blasts from a horn section. Joanna Newsom up your alley? Mesirow’s gorgeous voice will no doubt help reserve a copy of Ring for you.
Fortunately, this release is hardly a collection of popular indie derivatives. Listeners may find comfort in many of Mesirow’s tunes — even if it’s a snippet of a second that’s reminiscent of a favorite band — but the real treat is the music as a whole. Like many of today’s most celebrated indie acts, Glasser succeeds in wedding pure pop dynamics with left-of-field compositions that draw inspiration from traditionally non-popular music.
For Ring, Mesirow employed a healthy amount of musical instruments that are hard to find in the diet for an average pop tune. There are entire sections composed of woodwinds — woodwinds! Such extravagance can be seen as pretentious in the indie world, and there a couple moments where this effort is indeed a few didgeridoos short of that kind of callous snobbery.
In the end, though, it’s Mesirow, not the woodwinds, that makes Ring such a powerful piece of pop music. The album succeeds because Mesirow brings such grace and warmth to what could have been a collection of cold and foreign compositions. Mesirow’s sensual voice breathes life into much of Ring, and her knack for a good hook pulls the entire aural kaleidoscope into one accessible delight.
There’s no scientific approach to creating a perfect indie-pop song. Countless bands have tried it, and the results run the gamut between tepid and contrived. These days, simply aiming to create a chemically perfect song in indie feels a little oft putting. And that might be what makes Glasser so appealing. Somehow, Mesirow makes creating unconventional and complex music sound so natural. After all, indie became such a force because its “superstars” made music often mired in mistakes that reflect the human condition. It’s music that’s perfectly imperfect.
Even at its most intricate moments, Ring still reflects that charmingly imperfect part of our nature. Ring is odd and hypnotic, elaborate and approachable, dense and endearing. In the hands of any other musician, such aural acrobatics would end in failure. With Glasser, Cameron Mesirow not only makes the whole pastiche come together, but she makes it sound compelling, as well.