Language can be a strong ally. We won’t lie about this. Same goes for the fact that you might find it difficult to understand the essence of GLORIA‘s self-titled debut album if German is not your native language. And even a few skills might not help here. It’s always easy to proclaim that language is actually not that important when it comes to understand good music. But of course that’s a lie. Language and lyrics mark a strong point on the album Gloria, but the music is also worth a closer look. And of course this is a German author writing about the album. But believe us, he’s trying not to focus too much about the lyrical content.
Although this is GLORIA‘s first album the two protagonists are well known from Hamburg to Munich. Mark Tavassol was guitarist in WIR SIND HELDEN, one of Germany’s most successful bands of the past decade. And singer Klass Heufer-Umlauf is a quite popular TV host in Germany. Although he’s mostly famous for making ludicrous entertainment this might surprise a few of his fans. Heufer-Umlauf acts as the sad clown. Behind the big grin is a serious and melancholic person. GLORIA marks a form of emancipation for both men. Both fleeing from the shadow of previous success while creating something new.
The sound of GLORIA can be best described as melancholic indie-rock in the tradition of bands like THE NATIONAL, NADA SURF and slices of DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE. Harmonic, but also heavily melancholic. Mostly ballads but even the more uplifting songs come with a certain sense of melancholy. Opener Warten (“Waiting”) marks the perfect start before Gute Nacht, bis morgen (“Good Night, ’til tomorrow”) calms the mood down. Quite a nice idea of listing a moody lullaby at second place. GLORIA treat us with reserve, they are not looking for the big pop hit although you can clearly sense the melodic appeal. But here and there you’ll find moments where these guys tear the traditional radio format apart. The breakdown in the middle of Eigenes Berlin (“Own Berlin”) marks such a moment. When the brass section starts playing it feels like heaven. Probably the record’s strongest moment.
In terms of production these two guys keep it simple, although there are certain epic moments in it. It’s a rough sound in a very polish form if you understand what we attempt to say. Songs like the relaxed Heute Du (“You today”) and Endlich Kombinieren (“Finally combining”) have a good flow which might even work for you if you’re Non-German. But if you understand the words the experience gets even better. Heufer-Umlauf sings demure love songs, based on a bittersweet urban environment. It’s not ‘big city life’ in these songs. The concrete jungle marks an accepted faith and in it there’s not much love left. Nothing is defined, uncertainty fills the air. Probably something every twenty-something can relate to. It’s a universal language, no matter where you come from. GLORIA‘s debut marks a good example of a promising future for German music if it allows itself to grow and evolve in new directions. How wunderbar!