Album Review: The Glitch Mob — Love, Death, Immortality
On February 11, 2014, The Glitch Mob finally released their long-anticipated album—Love, Death, Immortality—though not without its own set of novel hurdles. Blessed with success and cursed with expectation, the veteran producers of Drink The Sea set out with one more obstacle to overcome this time around: their fan base.
Because they’ve been teasing us with kick-ass singles and extended plays for years, it’s easy to forget that The Glitch Mob haven’t released a studio album since 2010. That’s an awful long time to tour the world, get glitch lovers addicted to your sound, and leave them craving more. Couple that with the fact that—up until a few days ago—the Mob hadn’t released a single song from LDI besides “Can’t Kill Us,” and uncanny levels of anticipation are all but guaranteed.
I myself have been counting down the days to LDI’s release since my eyes first set on the music video for “Can’t Kill Us”, which has catapulted the album to #1 on iTunes’ electronic charts, and #28 overall:
Black, white, and rust-colored ooze spills symmetrically across your screen—growing, changing, and dividing its way past your eyelids like a mitotic Rorschachian fuckstorm. It’s almost enough to distract you from the classic, glitch-heavy bass that erupts around 0:54—but when the exploding ink reveals the Mob’s trademark sacred geometry, you’re well reminded of who you’re listening to. As far as teaser singles/videos go, “Can’t Kill Us” was generally well received by fans and did its job.
The album? Initial opinion seems split across The Glitch Mob’s fan base, with the more die-hard, sound-savvy among them expressing a fair amount of disappointment. But like any other topic, those contradicting voices seem to stretch in every vector. For some, it was too similar to Drink The Sea; for others, it was too similar to everything else that’s being produced. As an album, I personally find Love, Death, Immortality to be totally different from Drink The Sea. I also find that the Drink The Sea‘s songs are, at times, very similar sounding to each other (though one could argue LDI suffers the same pitfall). I’m not sure why Drink The Sea became the gold standard for measuring the success of anything The Glitch Mob produce, other than the fact that it’s their only other full-length album. Much of LDI’s criticism seems circumstantial—I could easily see the same criticism being placed on the sound, style, and progression of Drink The Sea if that had been the Mob’s second album and LDI had been their first.
On first listen, I was hooked the moment the opening track, “Mind of a Beast,” paused for an ominous half-second of silence at 1:22 before crescendoing into the Mob’s quintessential fast-paced drum and bass. What I can’t call anything but original is their second track, “Our Demons,” featuring Aja Volkman. Female guest vocalists carry more tracks in electronic music than anywhere else, and the results are often so similar as to seem formulaic. Not so here. Rather than carry a song from verse to verse, Volkman’s unique vocals seem merely to escort the listener to the song’s main chord progression—effectively getting out of the way when the time comes and letting the album’s architecture shine front and center as intended.
If one song could best epitomize the impending dissent LDI is sure to cause among Glitch Mob fans, I’d bet anything it’s “Skullclub.” Some will hear a played-out synth, but others will love the heavy bass and harder lines of this track. You’ll just have to listen for yourself… but I dare you not to rock your head back and forth right after you hear the words, ‘We are the wild ones.’
The chords in “Harmonious” live up to the name, perfectly complemented by Metal Mother’s haunting, sharp vocals interspersed throughout the track. “Can’t Kill Us” emerges in the middle of the album, followed by a return of Aja Volkman on the catchy “I Need My Memory Back.” The fast-paced “Skytoucher” is sure to be a club hit in the coming months, arguably LDI’s most dubstep-y track. It’s followed by the more uplifting “Fly By Night,” again accompanied by a female vocalist—Yaarrohs. The album ends on the heavier “Carry the Sun” and the more smooth and melodic “Beauty of the Unhidden Heart.”
By the end of Love, Death, Immortality, all I’m left wanting is that surprising, mid-song change of pace/tone I’ve come to love about The Glitch Mob. I remember not only exactly when and where I first fell in love with the Mob’s sound, but also the precise moment in “Animus Vox” that made me pull away from whatever I was reading, switch over to Pandora’s window, and figure out what the hell I was losing my shit to. At 2:55, about halfway through, “Animus Vox” switches it up, breaks it down, and forces the listener to shut up and take notice. And given this monster track was the opener on 2010’s Drink The Sea, it’s hard to fault those who are disappointed that Love, Death, Immortality didn’t live up to the hype—until we remember that the sound we want to hear isn’t always the sound the artist wants to make.
If you’re looking for an experimental, boundary-pushing evolution of Drink The Sea, you may end up wanting more. But if you’ve loved the classic glitch of its titular Mob—and your biggest complaint about your Glitch Mob playlist is that it isn’t long enough—I find it hard to believe you’ll think Love, Death, Immortality is anything but a fantastic addition to it.
Grab a hold of the album for yourself in iTunes.