With a run time of a little over 20 minutes, and an average track length of less than two, one might be forgiven for assuming that the 12 tracks on offer across the course of ‘Life Is Not A Lesson’ were far from fleshed out. For anyone familiar with Glitterer’s previous two EPs however, they’d know short doesn’t have to mean shallow.
Building on the bedroom recording style of those previous releases Life is Not A Lesson feels more encompassing than those early offerings, more developed. And while it is brief, it feels like an album in miniature; its brevity serving only to bolster the sharp sense of catharsis that it offers.
Though perhaps not cathartic in the sense that one might feel wholly cleansed after each listen, but in that the sense that each track feels like an exploration of the anxieties of modern life, and in that it offers a degree of resonance. That said, the caustic fuzz that coats much of the record still makes a fair effort at cleansing its listeners.
Opener ‘Bodies’ drips liberally with it. Two minutes of towering walls of guitar, feedback and clattering percussion, it sets the tone of the record perfectly. Elsewhere ‘Are You Sure’s woozy bass and synth melody provide a glimmer of blue sky amongst the cloying claustrophobic early stages of the record, though the brief respite is soon replaced by the grungey confines of ‘Try Harder Still’.
Falling somewhere between grunge and shoegaze, there’s a distinctly ‘90s bent present across the course ‘Life Is Not A Lesson’, and unfortunately works as something of a double-edged sword. While the album’s appeal lies largely in its angsty catharsis, the production that suits this so well also means tracks have a tendency to run into one another, especially on those shorter offerings. Indeed, it’s those rare tracks that run over the two-minute mark which are most memorable here; the longer run time allowing tracks such as ‘Fire’ or the aforementioned ‘Are You Sure’ to grow and evolve more noticeably than their counterparts.
Intense, claustrophobic and often cathartic, should ‘Life Is Not A Lesson’s run time be any longer, it would certainly be in danger of stagnating. As it happens, that’s not a problem this time around, however with such potential clearly untapped beneath Glitterer’s surface, it would be nice to see his foundations built upon more substantially next time around.
Words: Dave Beech
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