by Richard Hart
Stacey DeLooze is an artist and that artistic temperament and sensibility comes across in her Gothic, experimental and sometimes plain pretentious début album Glass Army. As the copy included with the launch says, she’s looking at the “essential juxtaposition of our glass like fragility”.
Well with that as your mission statement, you might be expecting the worst from an album that’s been performed by the visual artist. She’s ably supported by a strong production crew though as Chris Hayden and Tom Moth help craft her rich vocals with strong production values.
Stacey has a strong voice and has written the lyrics of the album too. Her writing is deft, showing a depth of intellect and experience. DeLooze’s début album never suffers from weak writing and her vocals range from soaring to powerful and there are shades of Tori Amos and Florence Welch in her voice.
The album has a very “progressive” feel to it and the opening intro is a moody bit of instrumental work, deep foreboding bass tones set a scene. It’s almost akin to something you’d expect from the likes of Crippled Black Phoenix.
The first proper track is “Nature Boy”, a moody, keening song that has rich electronica and some good percussion work that helps it avoid being neatly pigeon-holed in its genre. It’s also a great showcase for Stacey’s vocal work.
The second track, “Death Star” has already gotten a lot of exposure online and plays out as a slower, moodier version of the first track and the two flow quite nicely into each other, almost coming across as two beats within a larger, longer movement.
Things take a darker turn with “Hollier”. This track features a dark, tense guitar beat in the background and the vocal work takes a higher, emotional tone. The structure of the song recalls Florence and the Machine but in terms of how Stacey approaches the vocals, it’s much more akin to Tori Amos, lots of high, yearning tones and then sudden drops into a calling, rocky chorus. Hollier is a well constructed song.
Slow, ethereal and dreamlike, “Mountains” takes a definite touch for the melancholic and arty. It’s difficult to write about any female vocalist who has a certain style without seeing the fingerprint of Kate Bush and this song feels like something that Kate Bush might have produced if she was starting her career nowadays. There’s nothing wrong with the song, it’s got a rich tone but is much more predictable than the previous songs.
We Are Transient takes a page out of pure prog-rock territory, with a gentle tinkling bell to open the song before a big guitar riff blows the cobwebs away. When things eventually settle down the vocals come in with a grand operatic flourish and more growling, grandiose guitar work.
The longest track on the album is the sinister and grand “Too Heavy to Stand” which begins like something Trent Renzor might come up with. The song is long, complex and follows certain patterns that link it to the previous, less impressive track. Things take an abrupt turn towards the end which almost feels like a track within a track as a thick, gloomy beat is started and the song plays out with a dark electronic feel that again recalls Nine Inch Nails.
The slow and highly operatic “the Show” is full of dark synth sounds and percussion work. The vocals are sharp and rise up like shards of ice within all the swirling sounds of scratchy effects work, fuzzy piano and steady, near military style percussion work.
Starting with a sinister, fuzzy beat, “Lost Army” continues to build dark, threatening tones and effects work around the vocals changes the whole tone of the song which has a steady, quick beat and is a welcome change in pace and tone from the previous few progressive influenced songs. Things slam down at the end with a near operatic sound-scape of brass horns and continuing electronic work. This track is probably the album’s stand out in terms of its sheer individuality and originality.
The track closes with the gentler but no less creepy “Roads” which is based around a gentle, tinkling piano tune and lush, ironic vocals that play out of the top of it. There’s an echo to the track that gives the whole thing a Gothic, cobweb strewn feel as if it’s being sung in an empty house. The vocals build up and the tone changes higher. This track deeply and one suspects deliberately recalls the work of Kate Bush and is akin to Wuthering Heights.
Glass Army is a very interesting album which improves with subsequent listens. The prog-rock styles within it are a bit predictable at times, showing signs of the artists inexperience but equally that the genre has certain repeated themes that are hard to build in a new and original way. Indeed prog-rock fans are likely to see this is perhaps a reedy version of the guitar laden works they are so fond of.
In terms of experimental work, this album is actually quite straightforward. Whilst never quite mainstream, it does have hints of a layer of well crafted, dark pop music but is a couple of notches removed from the likes of Florence and the Machine.
Equally whilst Stacey has a rich, strong voice, the lyrics in the album never quite match the sheer elemental intensity of Florence’s work. At the moment, it would be hard to imagine Stacey delivering a version of “You’ve Got the Love” with the same searing force.
All in all it’s a very interesting, exciting and gloomy début album which is defineltley worth a listen. It’s far from a depressing experience too which one might have expected from the dark tones and artwork that accompany and support it.
DeLooze is about to begin a tour to support her new album, she’s certainley got some good raw skills that stand her future music career in good stead.