Since the release of their massively acclaimed and Mercury Music Prize nominated debut in 2008, reverb-happy Glaswegians Glasvegas have struggled with a frequently bingeing fronting (James Allen even went missing for a total of five days in 2009) and the loss of drummer Caroline McKay, recently replaced by Swede Jonna Lofgren. But while their time away from the studio has been nothing if not eventful, the only change that comes across on record is that the Scots seem even more despondent than before.
With his many years of expertise, super-producer Flood (U2, PJ Harvey) has remained surprisingly faithful to Glasvegas' defining sound, aggrandising Allen's distinctive Scottish twang and doleful melodies with echoing reverb and fuzzy distortion. The sense of space and depth is indeed grand, and is even intoxicating when combined with the band's more experimental tendency, in particular opener 'Pain Pain Never Again', it futuristic tone and rambling French and English monologues calling to mind some sort of drug-induced stupor.
Yet EUPHORIC///HEARTBREAK\\\ carries the same flaw as its predecessor - underneath that glorious haze, it can often be difficult to find a melody worth grabbing hold of. Sure, there's the glistening 'You', shimmering and buzzing to create hints of shoegaze among its angst-fuelled rock, and the glitchy 'Shine Like Stars', its 80sy guitars updated with modish electronics and thumping drums, but there are other times, like on the frustratingly repetitive 'Lost Sometimes', when EUPHORIC///HEARTBREAK\\\ is just downright monotonous.
As appealing as Glasvegas' massive, stadium-friendly atmospherics still are, this follow up just doesn't seem to have the tunes to go with them.