DATE BREAKDOWN: Gleeson – “Curse My Lucky Stars”

File Under: Alt/Indie, Pop/Rock

I was driving up the California coast early on Tuesday morning to see some elephant seals on the beach when Gleeson walked into my ears with Curse My Lucky Stars. And much like those beached seals, I found the date to be beautiful and repulsive all at once.

“Lazy Bones,” the opening song, lured me into a melancholy stupor, a dark indie zone I instantly assumed I’d find myself in for the album’s remainder. It’s a lengthy, drawn out ode to lethargy and the hope of breaking free from its grasp. 

“What’s Going On,” immediately breaks free of the drama for a quick, up-beat number with a grandiose chorus. Lyrically it’s quite forgettable and my take on the title is, “What’s going on with that affect you’re putting on your voice? It’s annoying, please stop, you’re ruining a fun song.” It’s a bit cheesy and the first (but not last) song to resemble bad musical theatre.

“Troll Day,” was a breath of fresh air. As far as I can tell, the subject is Internet Trolls, something most of us have dealt with in one way or another. A fun song with a catchy chorus that almost makes me forgive the band’s previous misstep.

 “Lollygagged,” however, might just work even better. Slower and without the bounce, but there’s something beautifully simplistic at work. It’s a song for the losers, and without the bullshit optimism those songs tend to be plagued with. 

“With My Motive Gone” feels like it should be a Muffs song half of the time. There’s just such a Kim Shattuck delivery in the verses that I wished I was listening to her instead. The chorus breaks into something entirely different and shattered the Muffs nostalgia at once. It’s a lot more loud and rocking than its predecessors, and may have taken a few listens to win me over, but “Motive” is nowhere near as out of character as what comes next.

“Something New” is just that, something new. And something bad. And cheesy. Remember when I said there was more bad musical theatre to come? Well, here you go. Objectively speaking, it’s not horribly done, but this is about my ears and my ears hate this. I was having a lovely blind date and cartoon birds and a singing princess had to  show up and ruin everything. It’s dull, it’s cliché, and it’s not for me.

And then we go straight into “Gleeson Victory March,” one of the most appallingly offensive things my ears have heard in a long time. For years I’ve maintained that Hoobastank’s “The Reason” is the worst song ever, but I’m seriously reconsidering that after hearing this. I’ve endured it all week long and now it can march it’s way into my computer’s recycling bin. 

“Goodbye Charles Street,” is infinity times better, but the bad taste left from “Victory March” lingers too strong for me to care. It’s a generically upbeat, generically enjoyable song. It’s short, it’s filler, and leads straight into “Monte Siesta,” its slower indie counterpart. At just over five minutes, the shitstorm of two songs ago has finally left my mind. It’s more filler, but it’s an amazing palate cleanser and I can’t thank Gleeson enough for that.

“The Size of Empty” goes from underwhelming to the best song on the album by the time the chorus kicks in. It’s shocking that this is the same band that wrote one of the worst abominations in music history. This is about the time I realized that Gleeson lacks identity. These songs are all over the place, and while that can be good, I can’t say it works for them. 

“Seasons” is the last of the cheesy musical theatre / Disney sounding songs. It’s not bad, but I don’t want to listen to it again regardless. Wrapping things up, “Milton Bradley’s Bible” is another generic upbeat track, but a bit more anthemic than the others. While none of the lyrics really stand out other than “truckstop lepers,” it has a good beat and overall makes for a fitting close to the album. Clocking in at five minutes and fifty seconds, “Bible” feels surprisingly short and by no means overextends it’s welcome. 

If I had to sum up Gleeson’s sound to someone unfamiliar with them in one word I’d go with clusterfuck. They’re a group of elephant seals molting on the beach, tiring themselves out on their way back in the water. Some of them are resting peacefully, some of them are fighting, a couple of them are flinging sand on their back. It’s a mess. Sometimes it’s a beautiful mess, but it’s still a mess.

Highlights include “Lollygagged,” “Troll Day,” and “The Size of Empty”

Going on a blind date with Curse My Lucky Stars:

3.25/5 stars


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