BLOODLIGHTS - Bloodlights (Playground/Mate In Germany)
When rawk began flowing from Scandinavia in a big way during the 90s, Norway’s Gluecifer were often mentioned in the same breath as Sweden’s Hellacopters by those in the know. The two acts went on to share not just stages, but also split vinyls and an eerily similar career arc as they courted American (and global) success on ever larger labels while slowly dialing back their initial “in the red” production values in favor of more saleable AOR-type sounds.
Although the Hellacopters announced just recently that ’08 would be their last year cuttin' grooves and treadin' the boards, Gluecifer had already reached that point in 2005. Arguably at the height of their powers, they’d discovered a slick and BIG sound on their last two efforts for Sony/SPV (2002’s "Basement Apes" and 2004’s "Automatic Thrill"), pedaling a more “arena rock” version of the Hellacopters rooster fare.
After folding, it was fully expected that either singer Biff Malibu or head axe slinger Captain Poon (or both) would step up with a new band to satisfy Gluecifer’s residual (and large) European audience.
Well, looks like the Captain has struck first, trotting out his new outfit, the Bloodlights, to seemingly little fanfare on a small German indie label. Yeah, they’ve got a couple slick lookin’ videos in the can, the digipak packaging is glossy and fat, and their website has some flash on it, but all in all, this is an understated affair acting as Poon’s acknowledgment that really, at the end of the day, he’s gonna have to build this thing up from scratch rather than take for granted any good will from those diehard fans of days past. And this isn’t a bad thing, because it means he’s hungry.
So what does this hunger get yah? Well, not surprisingly, Gluecifer 2.0, but also a little more than that. With production by ex-Monster Magnet guitarist Phil Caivano (who helmed records by Backyard Babies and Electric Frankenstein amongst others) and mixing by Canadian Mike Fraser, it’s no surprise that the recording is squeaky clean and instrument tones lean a little more toward LA than Detroit, but that’s OK. This is ambitious stuff.
From the initial building riff and drum roll of opener “Where The Stars Don’t Shine” and its’ subsequent explosion into wall of sound bombast, the tension and melodies get ratcheted up, and with the exception of the down tempo “Screwing Yourself”, basically stay that way.
The anthemic “One Eye Open” is a slice of pure alt radio perfection, and if there’s any justice, it will serve well to keep most chart acts off the charts. The closing triumvirate of “Against The Flow”, “Bald And Outrageous” and “Over When I’m Done” is positively inspiring in its’ sheer determination to break through…well…everything, and when it’s all over, you know you’ve been rawked. No doubt.
With sounds like this, you’ll find yourself not even listening to the words the first few times through, but that’s not to say they’re bad. The music is the star here, and Poon’s time honed ability to inject nuances into his on-target and compact writing style ensures that nothing ever becomes derivative, a fate common to other radio/arena geared stuff like this.
In retrospect, you can see that Poon was Gluecifer, and he’s gotta be careful to not piss on that formidable legacy by overly pandering to a latent desire for success and big shiny chrome tour buses. On this disc, he avoids that pitfall while smugly and potentially satisfying both the streets and your local corporately sponsored stadium.
The take-home message? Get this shit! Perhaps not a “classic”, but definitely worthy of being played at skull crushing volume. Support this band. It’s early goings yet, and I’m quietly confident that there’ll be some really interesting stuff down the road from these guys. - Dave Dutchin
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