The sleeve of Glasvegas's eponymous debut album is adorned with monochrome swirls, the same sort of chunky, textured furrows that Van Gogh might have been coaxed into supplying if he was still around. It's an apt choice of design for an album that's as close to a work of art as you'll find these days. Word has been steadily building on the quartet since their debut single 'Go Square Go' in late 2006; a certain enigma surrounded the Glaswegians with a penchant for black clothing, a Joe Strummer-lookalike singer, and the patronage of former Creation Records head Alan McGee.
Yet hype is no barometer for quality when it comes to music - Glasvegas would probably tell you that much themselves. Just as well, then, that this album is good enough to override the hyperbole. A collection of songs that sit astride both the hazy feedback of The Jesus and Mary Chain, and the shimmering, hand-clapping doo-wop of Phil Spector girl groups, Glasvegas is undoubtedly a stunning album - see standouts Geraldine, Daddy's Gone and It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry for proof, all songs that simultaneously glisten with sadness and exhilaration.
What sets them truly apart from 99% of their contemporaries, though, are James Allan's lyrics. Tales of broken homes, unlikely love stories and reminiscences of schoolyard fights are all delivered succinctly and effectively, Allan's emotive, sometimes painfully truthful Glasgow thrum adding extra poignancy to simple lyrics like "How you are my hero / How you're never here, though."
If you're lucky enough to 'get' this album, you'll know that there's something bigger, something strangely hard to understand about Glasvegas. You'll understand that bands like this, bands who appeal to taxi drivers, musos and indie kids, don't come along too often. And you'll understand that even if they never make another album, Glasvegas is a reminder that in this cynical age of music-making, good old-fashioned magic can still happen. Spellbinding.