Glued’s new album is called Cool Evil, and the St Louis post-punk band defines “cool” as soon as the needle hits the vinyl. The restrained opening riff of “Used to It” is almost-catchy in the best ways possible. It’s driving but muted, and sounds timeless but casual. The moment passes, and having now established your trust, Glued embark on the unexpected twists and turns of Cool Evil’s eight songs. Drummer Chelsi Webster and bassist Johnny Wu Gabbert lay down the sometimes-intricate, sometimes driving rhythmic groundwork as Kevin Guzkowski and Sean Ballard stay busy on clean, interwoven lead guitars. On top of all this, Webster and Ballard sing well-annunciated lyrics you can’t look away from.
The mood of Glued’s music shifts between sweetly melodic to oddly sour, often within the course of one song. In “Fish Song”, a sparse verse with a great pop melody puts you at ease with lyrics about feeling nostalgic. But the vivid memory turns sickly as this younger, distant-past version of Chelsi Webster accidentally kills all the fish while attempting to clean the fish tank, to the horror of her now-gone companion. “Now at least we can see clearly all the things we’ll miss / now at least they can see clearly as they rise to the surface” she sings in an almost Weezer-esque lush crescendo. Its abundant sweetness almost seems grotesque as the vehicle for such visceral lyrics. This kind of tension characterizes much of the “Cool Evil” experience.
I’ve had this record on heavy rotation since it came out recently on the Chicago-based Born Yesterday record label. Glued give you just enough pop satisfaction to instantly feel drawn in, and then test your trust while working through unexpected twists in mood, rhythm, and melody. It’s not unlike my first disorienting time hearing the Pixies as a teenager- I understood that I was probably hearing something great, and the music’s rewards unfolded slowly after repeated listens. “Cool Evil” is a record well worth repeated listens. Glued are playing at Dorchester Art Project this Sunday March 17, with Rong, Landowner, and Thighs.