There’s a certain cruel irony in a band that’s made fans wait for long, long years for their debut album, offering only a pair of tantalizingly short EPs to tide them over, and then titling said album Start Here. But then, that’s probably the point. For those unfamiliar with the band, The Gloria Record was one of three acts to rise from the ashes of the late, lamented Mineral — the others being Pop Unknown and Imbroco — and probably the most anticipated of the three as The Gloria Record is the new outlet for former Mineral singer/songwriter Chris Simpson. It’s now safe to say that The Gloria Record is also easily the best of the three.
Though from a purely selfish point of view it would’ve been nice if this had come out earlier than it did, it seems as though it was a good thing the band took their time to really nail down their sound. Where the previous EPs both presented some stellar writing and performances, they also showcased a band slightly uncertain in their direction, uncertain about how to provide the proper distinction between who they are now as opposed to who they were in their celebrated ancestor.
This is not at all a problem here, as The Gloria Record manages to be both completely true to Simpson’s vision as a writer while also finding a completely new voice for themselves, one that seemingly owes a decent amount more to the sonic stylings of Radiohead than to anything found in Simpson’s emo past. Production here is lush and layered and surprisingly keyboard-focused. Simpson’s vocals are immediately recognizable, but he’s reigned in some of the wildness of his earlier days. The increased discipline pays off in stronger melodies and the disappearance of his tendency to wander off key.
After the immense disappointment that was Imbroco and the just plain blandness of Pop Unknown, it’s nice to see that the talent behind Mineral wasn’t just a flash in the pan. They’re not really breaking any new ground, but the songs are good, the melodies strong, the production touch the richest Simpson has ever had, and the end result is just a really solid disc.
Written by Chris Brown.