After having put out six releases (three albums, three EP’s) of atmospheric electronica, A Sunny Day in Glasgow changed course last year with the brilliant Sea When Absent, a much less experimental (but no less adventurous) album that was one of 2014’s best. Eschewing ‘sounds’ for ‘songs’, they created something more accessible than anything they had done before. They have continued on that path with their latest, Planning Weed Like It’s Acid/Life Is Loss.
Although they are billing this as a double EP, this seems like a ploy to mask the fact that this is simply the shortest A Sunny Day In Glasgow album yet, with just nine songs and a run time of just over 30 minutes. Typically, ASDIG albums are sprawling affairs. A case in point is 2009’s Ashes Grammar, which spanned 63 minutes spread over 22 tracks, with the leftover material resulting in another full album and an EP! But sometimes, less is more. Those early albums, as interesting as they were, could send the mind drifting on occasion. Such is not the case with Planning Weed, which is here and gone in the blink of an eye. But not before leaving the listener clamoring for more.
One of the reasons that A Sunny Day In Glasgow have sounded more like a band on the last two albums is because they’ve actually become one. Instead of just being a one-man outfit (ASDIG founder Ben Daniels), the band has become a six-person conglomerate with a relatively equal say. The recorded results sound like a true band. There is a clarity that was not there before that makes the music much more palatable, but not without losing what A Sunny Day In Glasgow have always been. And what they have always been is a group that loves to take the listener on a journey, inviting people to join them on a trip that could possibly blow their mind.
Interestingly enough, considering that ASDIG have always resisted the ‘shoegaze’ label that has always been attached to them, Planning Weed begins with the closest approximation to shoegaze that we’ve ever heard from them, in the form of first single “Jet Black, Starlit,” with its droning guitars and bright vocals. Of course, majestic vocals have always been an ASDIG hallmark, the one consistent aspect of all of their releases, and that is not lost here. Lead vocalists Annie Fredrickson and Jen Goma provide an otherworldly dimension to the band’s music, particularly on “Hey, You’re Mine,” and “Days & More Nights,” with its echoed lines straight off of a Casio. Daniels has always been the main lyricist, and his interest in resplendent vocals has not waned.
The ‘trips’ ASDIG hopes to take you on are abundant here. “Bimbo” is an incredible piece, drifting from its heavy guitar intro onto an adventure featuring whacked-out clipped vocals and a trip through a musical kaleidoscope that will leave you breathless. “Recognizing Patterns” is another trippy journey that leaves one ecstatic, especially after its weirdly disorienting finish. “Dedicate Your Love To Silence, Talk About The Loss (Sentimental Ghosts)” is one of their most fun listening experiences, despite the title and subject matter. “Jewelry Duty” is a gentle stroll and a thing of beauty, while “Follow Me (Only)” is certainly a trip, even if it is a bit on the overload side. There is a lot going on here, which leads to a bit of chaos, but a wild trip it is.
The only stumble here would appear to be album-closer “I Can’t Live Without Your Love,” which is faux disco and features a jarring harmonica interlude that seems entirely out of place. But this should not subtract much from the whole, which is entirely consistent with what we heard on Sea When Absent. A Sunny Day In Glasgow have always termed their music as ‘pop songs’ and assigned the particular year of their release (the subtitle of Planning Weed Like It’s Acid/Loss Of Life is ‘Pop Songs 2015’). There is a lot of truth here. Nonetheless, if you like your ASDIG pre-Sea When Absent, you may not like what this album has to offer. But if you are a lover of great pop music, this album is for you.
David A. Bene is a freelance journalist who, during the day, works at a ‘real’ job bringing home the bacon. But at night, when everything comes alive, he can’t help but regularly indulge in two of his greatest passions…writing and music. Put the dude at a corner table with a laptop and some tunes and what do you get? Why, the guy who writes album reviews for Live from the Internet, of course! David, who has authored two books, resides in Independence, KY with his wife and four (yes, four) kids. Read more work from David here.