Glory Club: Glory Club
Scissor and Thread

Melodic pop-rock never goes out of style, as we're reminded once again by this self-titled EP by Glory Club. And if perchance the group members Anthony Collins and Jordan Lieb (aka Black Light Smoke) were to take affront at being labeled as such, they should relax on that count as there's nothing objectionable about having one's melodic strengths pointed out. Issued on the Brooklyn-based Scissor and Thread label, the twenty-two-minute EP is the radio-friendly brainchild of Lieb, a Chicago native and New York transplant who records under a number of guises (solo and otherwise) and whose work spans multiple genres, and DJ-producer Collins, who grew up in both New York and southern France and has established himself strongly within the French house and techno scene.

Though Collins and Lieb are formally Glory Club, they receive invaluable vocal support from Dominique Star (the lead singer in Brooklyn indie-pop band Star + the Sea) on “1000 words” and Léah Lazonick (Brooklyn-based film composer and songwriter) on “Trigger Me Out.” The combination of male and female vocals gives the quietly uplifting “1000 words” a powerful lift that beautifully complements the song's sultry arrangement. Lieb's Black Light Smoke remix of the second original, the haunting “Trigger Me Out,” receives its own delicious boost from the presence of Lazonick's girly vocal and a punchy, cowbell-driven groove. Both the original, with its funky bass pulse, and remix are given a dark, noir-like edge via gritty electric guitar playing and ominous lyrics (“Push that pin deep under the skin / Wait for the magic to begin / It's just a rag doll / Nobody gets hurt / Unless they really deserve it…”). Hints of Collins and Lieb's connections to dance music surface throughout in the songs' club-ready 4/4 beats, though never more audibly than during the dreampop closer “Under the Mask.”

There's an analog, retro and somewhat laid-back vibe to the songs, which shouldn't be mistaken for sloppy. There's a satisfying arc to the release too—something unusual for an EP—that sees it moving from the melancholy pop of the opener, getting progressively harder as it makes its way through the two central tracks, and then pulling back for the swoon-inducing outro. It is admittedly a bit unconventional to have a remix of the second track precede the original rather than have it appear at EP's end, but in this case it goes along with the aforesaid arc. The group also elevates its songs with nice instrumental touches, with the subtle tinkle of a glockenspiel heard during “Trigger Me Out” and sleigh bells and analog synthesizer in “Under the Mask.” It's all great stuff, but the dynamic Black Light Smoke remix of “Trigger Me Out” might arguably be the EP's strongest selling point.

March 2014