(5 / 5)
The main photo on the Home page of the website of this five-piece band based in Hamburg, is taken in front of a bunch of open umbrellas. Didn’t anyone tell them that it is bad luck to open an umbrella inside a building?
Judging by the sheer magic that emits from their new album, “Ø”, that bad luck has not materialised as yet. Far from it. A sound which is utterly on trend for today’s mainstream charts, but with a massive dose of credibility to it, unlike most of the mediocre drivel churned out for a here-today, gone-tomorrow fast earner.
You’d not think for such a big, polished, quality and classy sound that this is actually a debut album. On first listen, some may utter: Is it Coldplay? Is it Chris Martin solo? Is it David Gray? Richard Ashcroft? That would not be an insult, more so a big compliment as this stuff is as top notch as any of those stars and their output.
This band is built around founder and singer/guitarist Simon Gløde’s glorious voice and mesmerising songs. Born and raised on the shores of Denmark, Simon relocated to Hamburg from Denmark in 2014, hooking up with the cream of that city’s musicians to form this outfit.
Simon draws inspiration from his birthplace and most definitely from the sea. The record was recorded in an old farmhouse on the shores of Holme Strand in Denmark in November 2016. Finished off at a studio in Hamburg over the next few months. Funded via a crowdfunding campaign.
Simon is joined by Martin Baumgartner (bass), Julian Elsesser (guitars and clarinet), Tom Gatza (keyboards) and Max Schneider (drums), to form Gløde. Lots and lots of chemistry between them all too.
Additional programming: Sebastian Gimm, who co-produced the album with Simon Gløde . Strings by Niklas Hardt and Laila Nysten. Backing vocals from Simon and Sebastian. The tracks mixed by Ryan Gilligan in L.A. Nine tracks – all but one penned by Simon, arranged by him and the band. The song “Jeg Vil Elske” written by Morten Nørby, Gustaf Ljunggren and Niels Dahls of Vildnis.
The first thing that will hit you, when this album begins with “As We Speak”- the first single from the album – is just how much Simon Gløde sounds like Chris Martin. Not an impressionist. Just his natural tone, timbre and delivery, and it is so close to the British star’s voice.
It is a stunning opener; the beauty and grace of Coldplay meets the power and energy of Mr. Bono and U2. An anthemic, BIG sound. The Timpanic drums give it the power, the guitars build into a crescendo of classical overtures and undertones. The perfect way to start a debut album. It deserves to be a radio hit and bring them a wider audience.
Forget Chris Martin; Simon himself will reference the likes of Nick Cave, Jeff Buckley, Elbow – the latter I can hear nods to on this record – Eddie Vedder and Fink. as influences. No mention of Coldplay/Martin or indeed, Richard Hawley, who other people have likened him to. Not me.
The material here fits like a glove. Classy, stylish and very finely crafted. No fat. No fillers. Predominantly recorded “as live”, there’s a warm spirit marinated in all this stuff. A very even listen from start to finish.
Much calm and serenity, perhaps even melancholy, and a true depth to these songs. All sung in English apart from “Jeg Vil Elske”. (I had to laugh: not speaking or understanding Danish, this one sounds to me like playing the track backwards if it was sung in English)!
Double bass and strings permeate the tango grooves of “Lady In A Dress”, with a jazz tinge. “Make Up”, a really, really lovely song and beautiful production values. I have to make special mention of drummer Max Schneider on this one and across the record; how much value he adds with his light of touch, creative, percussive colours he brings to the table.
Almost lullaby-ish is the gorgeous “In The Sea”. Caution: Do not listen to this while operating machinery or driving…but then; the calm vibes twist into a more rambunctious vibe, until we are back to the caressing mode. So lovely.
Beautiful ballad – and for me, one of the best written songs here – “The Harder The Ground”, rams home the wistful and almost Lennon vibes, with the subtle string arrangement and a sparse track, Simon’s vocal so innate and commanding.
“Everything is perfect, perfection is everything”. A lyric from the sing-a-long tune “Sailor”, which kind of sums up this entire album. Just nine songs, so it’s all about quality not quantity, but where everything really is just about perfect.
With the right Baltic wind behind them, they are surely plotting a course towards future certain global success. If this had C. Martin and Coldplay on the front of the CD cover, it’d be a good bet for a Grammy, a Brit or two and most definitely multi-Platinum global sales. It really is that good.
I hope Membran Records have signed this lot up for a good few albums, take up their options fast and really get behind this band. It might well turn out to be the best commercial decision that they make for a very long time. Footnote: The title means “island” in Danish, but their potential territory is far, far bigger than that!
Such an addictive sound, such an addictive voice. Some fantastic material. In my personal Top 10 albums of the year, 2017, without a doubt. Cant wait to watch this lot develop and blast into orbit – if there is any justice in this fickle business we call music…
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’