Jun 08, 2021
By Ian King
Originally released by the Arena Rock Recording Company in the spring of 2002, and reissued with an extra side of demo and live gems this past April by Big Scary Monsters, the first and only full-length from The Gloria Record is an accomplished song cycle and a dewy eyed vision of what might have been.
One could say that Chris Simpson, the Austin-based frontman for both The Gloria Record and Mineral, ended up in bands that ended too soon. Mineral’s second and last album from their original run, End Serenading in 1998, presented as much potential as it did finality. Simpson formed The Gloria Record with Mineral bassist Jeremy Gomez soon after, and though they began with a less tumultuous take on their former emo-defining sound, after two promising EPs they arrived at a more complex and textured approach that drew comparisons to the likes of Radiohead and other forward-thinking rock bands.
The title Start Here feels unambiguous; this was supposed to be the true beginning of The Gloria Record, with all of the pieces now in place. Its 10 songs are multidimensional and distinct, each one playing a role in the running order, and they are unlike almost anything Mineral had put out. “I Was Born In Omaha” moves unexpectedly from acoustic intimacy to an anthemic circular conclusion. “Cinema Air” swirls up and up in a disorienting rhythm. “The Immovable Motorist” dances on a halting yet propulsive bassline. The beautifully draining duo of “Salvation Army” and “Ambulance” brings a fitting and purposeful conclusion. Momentum and contemplation push and pull throughout Start Here in pursuit of something vital and intangible.
Given the way emo became interpreted by the mainstream in the 2000s, it’s easy to forget all the different directions that the genre’s ’90s forebears had been heading in by that time. Three-fourths of Sunny Day Real Estate went simultaneously more prog and pop with The Fire Theft, members of Christie Front Drive had splintered into Antarctica and The Blue Ontario to build bridges to electronica and shoegaze, while Start Here articulated an altogether modern melancholy. In a more perfect world it would have been as widely recognized as Bleed American. (www.facebook.com/thegloriarecord/)
Author rating: 8.5/10
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