This past year saw Vancouver-based artist Adrian Glynn quietly showing his dark side as a silent menace on the silver screen; portraying first a soldier in Leonardo DiCaprio’s nightmares for The Reve nant and then a gruesome, stitch-mouthed villain in the series, Arrow. But here, on his most innovative musical outing to date, Glynn finds a light in the dark and ultimately a voice all his own.
For this first solo venture since 2011’s critically acclaimed Bruise (which garnered him a nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year at the XM Canadian Indie Awards), Glynn took his first attempts at synthesized demos to his friends, Canadian indie heroes, The Zolas. Zach Gray and Tom Dobrzanski were intrigued by Glynn’s new electro-lite forays and excited by the prospect of producing another artist’s record for the first time. At a rainy cabin on BC’s Sunshine Coast, they decided to make an album together. This would become morelightthannolight. “ We wanted to keep the intimacy ands ignature quality of Adrian’svoice, but juxtapose his often solemn melodies with all the cool synths and drum machines we had at Monarch (Studios)”, says Gray. “It made for a tasty balance point between hype an d melancholy”.More
They achieved this. The album opens on a simple pulsing guitar over a balmy synth tone, reminiscent of 80s-era Springsteen. This is “The Drugs and the Dream”, which builds to a sardonically triumphant chorus as the themes of the album become immediately apparent. Glynn sings, “My friends are in bed with their wives, my friends are too wild for me” and the record unfurls into an exploration of the twilight of youth and all its discomforts and freedoms. In Glynn’s words: “ I think at some point you start craving a sense of responsibility… but this is tempered with the need to retain the spontaneity of youth and the feeling of freedom that comes with being young”.
On “Patient”, (which pop prodigy Carly Rae Jepsen helped to complete), this is summed up in the opening lyric “I t’s about 4 or 5 degrees too cold and I feel about 4 or 5 years too old to be hanging round the beach, hanging round th e beach on a weekday”.
Production-wise, morelightthannolight ventures into new sonic territory but Glynn doesn’t entirely leave his rough-folk past behind. A spacy banjo and handclaps set the tone for “Old Cadogan Hotel”, an Oscar Wilde-inspired lament that borrows directly from John Betjeman’s 1937 poem “The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Old Cadogan Hotel” and Wilde’s own prison opus, De Profundis.
The album’s tour de force, however, is the sprawling, epic “Guardian”. The song takes the point of view of a guardian angel no longer sure how to care for his ward. Glynn’s voice is barely a whisper over a sparse piano; “ How will you know for sure that t heir love wasn’t an answer?”, before a cacophony of side-chain and an angular kick-drum beat drive the song to its climactic finish.
The album plays off of its title both lyrically and musically, exploring the interplay between acoustic and synthetic instruments, between the neon of cityscapes and the creaks in ours walls. morelightthannolight isn’t a folk album, it isn’t indie or pop. It finds a voice of its own, somewhere between the shadow and the light.