The concern with being overly schooled in music history is that your band can easily run the risk of being derivative. You’re so steeped in the arcana of the scene, of paying homage to the sounds you love so much that you fail to create your own sense of style. Hopefully, if you’re extra capable, you should be able to combine your songwriting talent with your appreciation of your forebears and create something engaging and interesting. I’ll always be able to enjoy a group’s records as long as it’s found a way to push old ideas into fresh directions.
And it seems that Gliss has managed such a feat, and in impressive fashion. Langsom Dans finds ‘80s goth rock dining sumptuously with ‘90s shoegaze and then enjoying a few adult beverages with ‘60s psych-pop. The result is a brooding, entrancing batch of 12 songs with excellent energy and a coherent vision performed by a talented Danish trio. It’s easy to pick out familiar sonic touchstones - Bauhaus, Siouxie Sioux, Beach House, and Raveonettes - but I greatly appreciate the reverb-soaked nods to arty surf rock.
The project is led by the eerily sultry vocals of Victoria Cecilia, but the semi-frequent inclusion of Martin Klingman’s baritone pipes adds a special Martin Gore-esque flavor to the mix. I’m also a big fan of the rich walls of fuzz generated by the electric guitars and the fantastic bass guitar work, whether it hits the regular root notes or rips off a solid lick or three.
In terms of atmosphere, a sense of melancholy hangs over these songs, but the mood never becomes oppressive or morose. The album is far from chipper, but it possesses good energy, flow, and pacing, thus preventing the music from either drifting away into the ether or falling into a gloomy ravine. Moreover, there’s an anthemic quality to the best songs on the record, as standout cuts like “A To B,” “Blur,” “Waves,” “The Sea Tonight,” and “Black is Blue” provides ample room for the band to display its rock chops to their advantage.
I really dig the whole of Langsom Dans. I get to sway back and forth under a hail of dreamy feedback, but only until the lovely voices and pop sensibilities bring me back to my senses. In short, they’ve taken what they like from the musical landscape and shaped those influences into songs that make sense to them, without coming across as copycats. So, if you’ll pardon the cheap rhyme, I found Gliss to be filled with a rather wistful futuristic bliss - that future might not be sunshine and roses, but it certainly won’t be some post-apocalyptic wasteland.