Jack Burnside's new project technically does everything right, but not strongly enough to make a lasting impression.
There’s an impressive amount of pedigree behind Glacial. Western Lows are largely lead by ex-Mezzanine Owls frontman Jack Burnside, but it’s his listed collaborators that steal the attention: Andy Lemaster in producer/co-member duties, Azure Ray’s Orenda Fink doing backing vocals, Michael Stipe lending some lyrical assistance, Bright Eyes collaborators listed in the who-played-what section, etc. The veteran professionalism shows in how immaculately Glacial has been produced. The crystal-clear production gives each sound some space to breathe and lends the music an appealingly cool tone (glacial, indeed). The dreamy and almost shoegaze-y vocals bring forth the atmosphere and the general style is like a concoction of many fine strands of indie rock and dream pop put together. But Glacial is proof that just because you do everything technically right, it doesn’t mean you can’t fall a little short. The songs carry swell ideas but none of them are so effective they’d make you yearn to hear them again. The sound is good but not particularly striking. It’s one that’s been heard many times before and Western Lows aren’t adding anything new to it, disappearing in the middle of their countless other peers. For all the talent behind it, Glacial comes bizarrely close to sounding like the debut album of a young band still learning their trade. That’s not a bad thing per se, but it never becomes more than an alright listen that’s bound to get its most positive reactions from hardcore Mezzanine Owls fans.