For all the hipster-centric folderol mouthed about The Glass, what we have
here is basically two smart-aleck rhythm box junkies – one of whom (Dominique
Keegan) runs the label pressing this album. The other (Glen “DJ Wool” Brady) is
head honcho of the Berlin-based We Collect Enemies label, as well as releasing
music via his DJ persona. Sound familiar? The cadre of spinners using brains,
ears, and fingers to thumb a ride with the jetsetter set, along the way pumping
out sonic ambiences for late-nighters, seems to grow like one of those weird
no-sun-or-water plants. The Glass has been generating buzz for about six years,
which tells us this isn’t so much about a college-aged scene as one that’s
attractive to martini swillers in their early thirties.
There’s plenty to enjoy in the duo’s first full-length release (the seven
tracks of Couples Therapy were
proffered as an EP in 2007). Apparently therapy didn’t really take – At Swim Two Birds (titled after a novel
by fellow Dubliner Flann O’Brien) is about the netherworld of cruising. And
while the title is attributed to various sources, including Brady’s love of the
ocean, its metaphor for two singles desperate to hook up is one of the album’s
clever maneuvers. Another arrives with the opener: “Four Four Letter” intersperses jet-stream
sound effects with the bass line from Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug” before settling
into dance-happy beats. Another apple for the teacher (Bryan Ferry) follows,
with “Pheromone” (“Avalon”).
Laced with homages to ‘70s disco, At
Swim makes a fine adjunct to soirees – and, of course, the Hustle — unless
this is the sort of thing one chooses to accompany a double espresso and pain
au chocolat for a shot of energy. Sprightly hit single “Wanna Be Dancin'” would
be a good choice for that. “Heavy Disco” references “Funkytown.” And the danger
of monotony is avoided with the winning melody of “Washed Up,” although one
wonders how many listeners will want to shake it to a story about a former
Max’s Kansas City personality and shopping-cart pusher victimized by addiction.
Before resolving the need-to-get-laid conflict with “Surrender,” The Glass
provides some unusual chuckles with “Michael McDonald.” True to night life as
anything else here, it’s about a love object who “would rather listen to the
Doobie Brothers – even after Michael McDonald.” The protagonist’s path to
harmony is short enough to mirror that of any lust-besotted suitor, anxious to
keep “feelin’ no pain.” Here he concludes, “Yeah, you know? She’s really right.
They’re pretty sweet… when you’re high.”
That should make all sorts of sense to The Glass’s growing coterie, whether
or not any one of them can remember, for his or her life, what seemed so funny
the night before.
DOWNLOAD: “Wanna Be Dancin’,”
“Washed Up,” “Michael McDonald,” “Surrender” MARY LEARY