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Album Review: The Circle Binds by Glower

Coming out of the embers of Hands, The Circle Binds is the debut album from Glower. It takes elements from hardcore and mixes it with pop melodies and asks the question “What would it sound like if Billy Corgan and Brian Wilson started a hardcore band?” Josh Silbernagel (Hands) says of the projects origins, “I have always had this music in me. When Hands went on indefinite hiatus, I felt the time had finally come to let it out. I wanted to take the complexity and intensity of hardcore and combine it with my love of melody, harmonies and big choruses.”

Broken Circles is the kind of album that will appeal to fans of Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Eat World and Failure. There’s an early marker of the heady choruses and melodies in opener ‘Low Motion’, the guitars are big and chunky while you can’t help but fall in love with the hook. ‘Find Heaven’ takes more of a classic rock approach with soaring riffs and a hollering vocal. There’s a not too subtle nod to influence of Jimmy Eat World on ‘Lusitania’. It’s a great song though, the middle of the road alt-rock guitars wash over you and engrain themselves.

Although there’s some brilliant hard riffs within ‘Spectra’ and ‘Like Arrows’ you’re left a little numb. It all just seems a little too safe. The melodies and hooks have plenty of potential, they just lack a certain pizzazz. ‘Warm Spaces’ embodies the potential that threatens but never really delivers. Luckily the band turn it around in the final three tracks. ‘Black Hole Baby’ is a phenomenal hard rock song, the throbbing riff pushes the track onto the next level and the hook sounds like it belongs in a stadium. ‘Heart Container’ is by far and beyond the best track on The Circle Binds. It’s such a strong track that without it you feel this album wouldn’t be half as good as it is. Emotive and thrilling, the guitar work is of the highest grade. The intricate riffs cast an affecting texture that strengthens the vocal and makes for one of the best alt-rock songs produced in 2015. The band’s focus on creating a good melody is typified in the album’s closer and titular track, as Silbernagel intones the listener to; “Hear the song, hum along. A melody so sweet and strong, catch it while we can. It’s here, it’s gone.”

The Circle Binds could be considered part experiment and part personal release of creativity. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it does it’s enthralling.

AD Rating 6.5/10

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