Probably the best thing about Gloo is that, while there isn’t a lot to say about them, everything that is there is pretty much exclusively good. They’ve built a great reputation for themselves within the scene and on the live circuit, and as far as last year’s debut A Pathetic Youth goes, it’s hard to fault them for much at all, condensing punk with a classic ethos down into its most direct form and running with it for absolute miles. It’s incredibly simple but just as effective, and mostly a shame that it hasn’t caught on as much as it should have yet. Then again, you get the distinct impression from Gloo themselves that they’re not too worried about that, and that Stop And Stare is more a combination of a victory lap and an even louder form of amplification than a way to try and rope in a greater audience.
Looking towards the latter though, if that was Gloo’s overall intention, it doesn’t quite feel as though Stop And Stare is the right release to do that, and it’s not a case of not trying. As far as punk goes, especially in the modern stripe, this is still as brash and volatile as one would expect from this band, and as an addition to their current catalogue, it’s an enjoyably snappy listen. As an introduction though, Stop And Stare doesn’t quite reach that end goal, and while never feeling like an outright disappointment because of it, putting it next to its predecessor only highlights that Gloo can do better than this.
Again though, this is far from a band lazily churning out more material to capitalise on what they’ve already have. The snotty sensibilities that gave this band their edge remain firmly intact, as Tom Harfield reaches a convincing middle ground between Frank Carter and Luke Bentham with his brash sneer that feels as though it’s consistently coming from an upturned lip. It’s all totally in keeping with the classic punk spirit that Gloo have always exhibited, especially with the bashed-out instrumentation and grainy production that lend their ragged, rough-around-the-edges quality to tracks like I’m Not Gonna Change and Bad Sign that works so well. It’s hardly innovative, no less because this is a style of punk that’s been around pretty much since the genre’s inception, but few bands capture that vibe with such immediacy as Gloo. This is punk with the spit and grit left in, unafraid to be loud or obnoxious and owning it at every moment. The fire within this EP can easily be seen, and it works so well because of it.
But with that comes the other side of the coin, where punk based on such a reckless, fearless approach can lack more depth than it should, and while that’s never typically been a problem for Gloo in the past, Stop And Stare begins to exhibit those signs. It’s worth stressing that this isn’t a totally calamitous issue – they’re not turning into Slaves or anything – but especially on a track like I’m A Mess which dials up its repetitiousness far more than it should, Gloo start turning into a very flattened archetype of the sort of punk that they’ve always been a more intelligent alternative to. Of course, that’s still there thematically in barbed offerings like the title track and Standerby, but it’s virtually impossible to claim to this is Gloo at their absolute best. Their debut had such a smartness and incisiveness that really made it stick, and while this does feel like a suitable follow-up in terms of a shorter, sharper version of what was offered there, some of the edge can feel dulled down a bit.
Regardless of that knock though, Stop And Stare is a perfectly commendable next effort, at least as far as expanding Gloo’s base sound goes. It’s the sort of thing that has enough blunt punch to have more success in the live environment than anywhere else, but for a dose of punk that’s free of any and all pretensions and hang-ups, it’s tough to go wrong here. Even for what will undoubtedly be viewed as a conduit between much more impactful material in the years to come, Stop And Stare hits plenty of the right marks with the ease and confidence of a band ready to take on the world by force.
For fans of: The Ramones, Idles, Estrons
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Stop And Stare’ by Gloo is released on 26th April.