Faded Seaside Glamour is, quite simply, the most delightfully sublime
piece of UK pop rock since the Madchester scene of the early 1990s. A treasure
trove of dreamy vocals, jangly guitars and sparse but tasteful keyboard
arrangements, Glamour is like a supergroup collaboration between the
Cocteau Twins and the La’s, though the Sundays and Hollies can be heard floating
throughout as well. This is Golden Age-era modern rock we’re talking about.
However, it is not simply a loving tribute to the Golden Years of modern rock;
actually, it leaves many of that period’s most successful albums in the dust,
which is all the more impressive because they have accomplished the feat of
cribbing UK lovelies Liz Fraser and Harriet Wheeler without even using a female
vocalist. That’s right, that is one Greg Gilbert delivering those ethereal
vocals on pitch perfect summer songs “Nearer Than Heaven” and “Hey Girl,” which
sport so many hooks that even the godly Sixpence None the Richer would consider
selling their souls for them. When Gilbert drops out of his uncanny falsetto to
sing like a mere mortal, a raspy quiver takes over that recalls a tenor version
of Stereophonics singer Kelly Jones, which works as a nice contrast to his
heavenly upper range. As an added bonus, his falsetto also bears no resemblance
whatsoever to Justin Hawkins.
But never mind the gender-bending vocals. The most endearing part of Faded
Seaside Glamour is its overall attitude: The songs soar with a breezy
optimism that flies in stark contrast to the macho posturing and
passive-aggressive bitchiness that has dominated modern rock radio for the last
five years. The change is most welcome and long overdue. Here’s hoping that it’s
a sign of brighter days to come.