If ELO and Daft Punk were ever to get together and reproduce musically, GUM would be their offspring. Glamorous Damage is one giant intergalactic trip where synthesizers are fused together with laser beams and 80’s glam rock - over the top theatrics wrapped in glitter and sequins.
Think of every sci-fi film you saw as a kid (Flash Gordon, Tron, The Last Star Fighter, Weird Dreams) ‘cause this album could easily be the soundtrack to any (if not all) of them. The album plays out like a film, as we follow the hero blindly for the next 45 minutes. It’s all about Watson and his journey as he experiments with sound.
At the tender age of 25, Jay Watson already has an impressive resume. Best known as a member of psychedelic rock bands Tame Impala and Pond. GUM sees Watson take the lead with his second LP. Glamorous Damage sees a huge shift from the previous release Delorean Highway; This album is light and fun.
The opening track “Anesthetized Lesson” is full of irony, a party song about being sick of partying. It is full of big sounds that grab you straight away and lead you to the dance floor. Guitars are fed through synthesizers, layering as many as 8 guitar harmonies at once. It’s hard to distinguish at times which instrument is driving the beat as they masquerade as each other.
“Notorious Gold” is like our generation’s answer to Bowie’s "Space Oddity". It’s a passionate ballad. Vocals are heard fragmented over the intercom as Watson pleads, “I don’t want to get old”, before his spaceship descends and comes crashing down to earth.
One of the album’s high points is “Elafonissi Blue,” a triumphant pop rock opera. It would sound at home being played in a video game like Wonder Boy or Super Mario Bros. The song starts with a fierce tempo and you can almost picture our pixelated hero running in time with the beat, propelled through the airy keyboards that shoot fire. A breakdown in the middle of the song features a keyboard saluting your heroic quest; You’ve saved the princess and your nations anthem is played.
There is also a cover of The Divinyls' 1983 hit “Science Fiction” - a throwback to the iconic Aussie rock of the 80’s. Backed by what sounds like a Casio keyboard on demo mode, Watson’s vocals are the stand out feature on this track. Stripped back and vulnerable, it’s a heartbreaking (could give Boys Next Door’s classic “Shivers” a run for its money) account of young love and not recognising it for what it's worth. It’s not all sorrow, though; The song picks up with electric guitars that soar to great heights. From here we can see the stars and how they shine so bright.
This album is amazing, but it seems as if Jay Watson himself hasn't realised it yet. Hearing him speak about the process and his abilities he seems to play down just how talented he is. There is something that is quite loveable about an artist who is so humble about the music they create. If you’re a geeky kid you will get such a kick out of this album. Grab a copy of the album, arm yourself with a light sabre and recreate every intergalactic space battle you’ve ever imagined.
Glamorous Damage is out now on digital formats.