On the surface, Serengeti Long Walk’s Glimmerless is a bit of a ramshackle, sloppy collection of songs. For instance, the guitars on “Strange Birds” sound badly out of tune (on purpose?), while vocalist Ger Duggan is rough around the edges, and inside and out, most of the time. Yet it’s likely this very looseness that gives Serengeti Long Walk its charm.
Many bands — most of these British, by the way — come to mind while digesting this new song set. The first is Ian Dury and The Blockheads because some of these tunes feature a pub band dance vibe much like Dury’s “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick.” Vocalist Duggan also sings a little bit like fellow Irishman Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Live Aid fame. Another reference point is Gang Of Four, which can be heard in the woozy dance grooves of tracks like “Gravity.” Perhaps a better overall comparative is The Clash, a group that, although they rarely sounded extremely tight, always sang and played with unbridled passion.
Serengeti Long Walk is also intelligent and perceptive. For instance, “Celebricide,” a made-up word song that describes our crazy celebrity culture, reveals how they have an observant eye trained on the craziness of the famous people world around us. You also get the feeling these six musicians have been influenced by the great artists in rock history. Joe Demody takes over the vocals on “Srange Birds” and the way Demody pronounces the word ‘satellite’ during “Strange Birds”,” for instance, suggests he’s spent some time listening to Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” at some point or other during his pop music education.
“The Best View Of You” is sneaky good in how it combines a seemingly gentle love song with a snarky, kiss-off lyric. You realize that when Duggan repeats “I’m putting my foot down” near the end of the track, it’s because he’s putting his foot down hard on his car’s gas pedal. And why, you ask, would he do this? Because, as he then sings, “The best view is from the rearview mirror of a speeding car.” He’s in the getaway car; the getaway car, that is, from a bad relationship. Sneaky, eh?
While much of this music carries with it a slightly inebriated, basement tapes vibe, Serengeti Long Walk can tighten it up when they feel the need, the same way blue collar workers can get all dressed up in suits and ties for special occasions. The guitar-centric, glossy sonic of “Panic” is just such a special occasion. It should be noted that Duggan once again steps aside and leaves the lead vocal in the capable hands of Des O’Mahony on “Panic”. This one features some mighty fine electric guitar work and a slick dance groove that brings to mind some of The Clash’s more club-ready dance music experiments.
Glimmerless is the kind of album that restores ones faith in music. It’s good in a subtle way, in that it reveals its charms slowly, one or two layers at a time. I t may not knock you over the head with memorable hooks upon first exposure, but if you give it enough time, it will start to get its hooks in you. It’s the sort of recording that forces you to listen closely because Serengeti Long Walk is never going to spoon feed you their art. You need to make the meal yourself with its healthy ingredients.
It’s tough to tell if Serengeti Long Walk has a huge following in its future, but it’s fairly certain that those who choose to follow the act won’t be disappointed and will likely be loyal to the end. This is easily one of the best sleeper albums in recent history. Let’s hope the movers and the shakers in the music press get their hands on this new album and spread the word far and wide. Serengeti Long Walk’s Glimmerless is worth the extra attention.
Review By: Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)