This article first appeared on The AU Review.
In previous years, Daniel Anderson A.K.A Glowbug hasn’t made too much of a fuss about his releases. As a member of rap outfit Hyro Da Hero as well as Idiot Pilot, there hasn’t been much room for his solo outings. 2012’s Suit Of Swords was a masterpiece of reverb infused electro-pop with an interesting mix of grunge, yet he released it for free download on Bandcamp with a heads up to fans from social media accounts, but nothing noticeable. But Glowbug’s new full length effort Headhunters is hard to look past, no matter how coy he might be about marketing it.
The opening track “Webs” is passionate and anthemic, brimming with dangerous sounding synth and empty falsetto vocals. This track will immediately flag one thing up front for listeners, if you don’t like reverb in your vocal track, you won’t like Glowbug. What started out as a bit of a production faux pas for me, turned into a loving, long-term relationship, and now I couldn’t imagine a world where singers didn’t use reverb profusely. The hollow spike in electronics and desperation in the vocals signify the outro of the track, catering to both electro lovers and the heavier sorts as things get fast paced and screamy.
“I Need A Lover” is your more standard rendezvous with the poppier Glowbug, starting with an infectious melodic line and easy to relate to lyrics about life and love. The guitar solo in this is the first one I’ve heard on a Glowbug track and it’s pretty damn sweet too. It’s the single “False Metal” that shines through the most, though. The first song on the album of many to sport a featuring artist in Josh Holland and it’s a welcome addition from the reverb soaked vocals of Daniel Anderson. Holland’s beautifully high-vocal range headlines the track in a call-and-response arrangement, adding an impressive new element to what we were previously used to from the bug. The tune has attitude, emotion and the uncanny ability to get stuck in your head, which is a rare quality for a sort-of-heavy song.
One of the other highlights on Headhunters (besides the album artwork) is a featuring spot from rapper Hyro Da Hero. The track, “Blood In The Waves” adds a beat reminiscent of Tinie Tempah, and come to think of it Hyro sounds pretty similar to the UK rap superstar too, and that is in no way a criticism. The song is tight. “Death Of The Party” is another one of Glowbug’s staples, the retro track that then throws us off course with a screamo chorus. The intro to this song sounds like something that could’ve played on the “Breakfast Club” soundtrack, but then it veers right out of control, giving us a hell of a breakdown, with sirens and screaming to top it off. Also, I should mention that the film clip is one of the most confronting things I’ve ever seen, although it fits the song quite nicely. It’s a really harsh mix of tropical fun and grotesque depravity, watch it (at your own risk) and see what I mean.
When “The Night My Heart Stopped” kicks into play it’s like the musical version of the panic and confusion you see when a fire alarm goes off in an office block. It’s a ferocious song featuring Sean Smith from The Blackout that packages the electro-hardcore vibe of Glowbug quite nicely. “Haunted” and the ending track “All In” takes the act in a much needed melodic direction, as a break from some of the more confronting tracks. Inclusive of female vocals from Lourdes Hernandez, the latter tune even takes a turn that could be described as “mellow”, a stark contrast from the rest of the collection. That’s where the artist hits his stride. It’s such a diverse collection, going from bravado, to fucking panic and into a straight forward, chill-out, electro-pop track and some tracks on cruise-control to even it out. And it works. I feel like if he stuck with just any one of these styles the whole collection would have become a bit tiring. But what we have is an album that just straight-up works.
Daniel Anderson is a bloody great musician and producer, and it’s never been more clear then inHeadhunters. There’s a lot of personal angst here, and not the type that keeps teenagers in their bedrooms writing in their diaries about why Dad will never understand. This is the type we can get behind. A man putting his whole life into music at the sacrifice of the simple things that make most of us happy. The album screams redemption throughout the course, with lyrics like “I really thought about giving up” and “I wanna live life again” exuding from the singers mouth. This is a Glowbug taking all the things that made him good, and ditching all his ghosts to create his best work to date. Perhaps the best part about it, though? He’s still giving it out for free. It truly is a good time to be a Glowbug fan.
9.2 / 10