Published May 02, 2018It's been four-and-a-half years since L.A.-based trio the Glitch Mob released 2014's stylish and enjoyable Love Death Immortality — a long time in terms of electronic music trends. That album was full of infectious, single-ready bangers, an approach the group seem to think has gone out of style in 2018. Their latest, See Without Eyes, leans heavily into brooding, down-tempo excursions instead and the results make it seem frankly like a bit of a misstep, but the album is not without its moments, and the group remain talented and committed to their sound.
Stylistically, the group are still working somewhere at the intersection of dubstep and mid-2000s EDM, with a dash of hip-hop swagger thrown in, and without a doubt, when it works, it works. Their trademark synth stabs, as elastic and pitch-bent as ever, make a return, and still sound great — three killer opening tracks grab your attention immediately, and album centerpiece "Come Closer" is another highlight. But the group largely shy away from the rousing floor-fillers that populated their last album about halfway through See Without Eyes, focusing instead on smoky, down-tempo vocal numbers that don't seem especially suited to their skills.
The issue is that the group specialize in style, slick and cool, which are inherently superficial (and ideally ancillary as opposed to central elements of a group's sound), and when they try and slow things down for more "serious" or "introspective" tracks, they seem less sure of how to fill the space. They have their moments (the crisp synth stabs that help close out "Go Light" come to mind, and vocalist Ambre acquits herself well over some cool synth soloing on "How Do I Get to Invincible"), but most will likely favour the album's more upbeat first half.
Certainly the group dabbled in slower numbers on their last album, but the results were more memorable — perhaps due to the fact that, despite being slower, they were still often filled with those slickly confident synth leads that seem to have been dialled-down a fair bit on See Without Eyes.
Perhaps the group didn't want to repeat themselves, but in retrospect those leads seem like their secret weapon. Fans who enjoyed Love Death Immortality will likely miss those elements, but a real fan sticks with a group through their growing pains, and the Glitch Mob are worth it. (Glass Air)