Album Review: "Looking Through the Shades" - Glitterer (ANTI-)

Finally, an answer to the age-old question: “Where is Title Fight?” Apparently, creating both thought-provoking and danceable synth-laced indie rock.

Jokes aside - Glitterer is the pseudonym of Ned Russin, one of the more recognizable creatives behind Pennsylvania band Title Fight. He’s also lent his musical talent within several other bands, spanning mostly under the hardcore umbrella. Aside from Title Fight’s 2015 release, Hyperview, Glitterer is arguably the most different from all the other projects he’s participated in. More than anything, this project and persona feels refreshingly honest.

Title Fight’s discography has featured everything from indie, hardcore and pop punk influences, making it hard to pin them down to just one genre. Their most recognizable sound profile tends to feature longer, more lyrically intense tracks, with guitar parts that range from the dreamy and melancholy side of things, to bass-heavy punk-influenced riffs. Through every genre change, however, Ned’s unique vocal style has stayed consistent. It is a hard-to-replicate tone that is raw and easy to sing (or yell) along with, evoking strong emotion, even when he taps into the more deadpan side of his vocal range.

The reason I give this history is to point out both the contrast and the common ground between the two projects. Glitterer’s earlier work was definitely on the more synthesized side of things, giving off a New Order/Joy Division-esque new wave vibe. Looking Through the Shades, however, takes those synthy sounds and meshes them together with heavy 90’s pop rock influences. None of these tracks would be out of place on your favorite alternative radio station or, say, in the background of a party from an early 00’s teen romantic comedy. Despite these classic sounds, the album is far from “radio rock,” including aspects of dream pop, new wave, and other things that make Glitterer truly unique.

As far as other personnel on the album, Ned’s brother Ben has provided the drums on this record, with a guitar feature from their other brother, Alex. Glitterer also features some interesting production choices - Arthur Rizk, a primarily metal and hardcore-based producer (King Nine, Outer Heaven, Power Trip), and indie mastermind (Sandy) Alex G, who mostly operates as a solo artist - though he’s also worked with other musicians, most notably Frank Ocean. This contrast summarizes most of Ned’s work perfectly - hardcore influences (particularly vocally) that can go beyond a multitude of genres.

One of my favorite aspects of this record is the vignette-style that the tracks follow. The longest songs on Looking Through the Shades are still only a little over 2 minutes, all telling their own short story. Though completely different genres, this calls back to a project I really enjoyed by rising hip-hop artist Tierra Whack’s 2018 record, Whack World, in which each song is a minute long and has an accompanying music video. There are also strong visuals for multiple songs on Looking Through the Shades. 

On the Glitterer record in particular, each song manages to be catchy despite the lack of a chorus or formal hook on most songs. This provides a really interesting contrast to Ned’s previous projects. The reason this stands out is the fact that one of Title Fight’s more recognizable qualities in their later albums would be the metaphor-laden, stream-of-consciousness-esque lyrical setup. 

On Looking Through the Shades, however, the lyrical format seems more akin to several short poems. While a lot is being said, the words are simple. One track that illustrates this particularly well is “Anxious Eyes.” Ned repeats himself “Sit and wait/sit and wait/for our day/it’s not today,” following with the titular line, “I’m not afraid/but here I am/looking through the shades.” The song captures the feeling of anxious rumination through its simplicity. Again, the length and amount of words do not detract from the meaning - Ned is a very good writer, and overcrowding the songs with more poetic words would ruin the effortlessness and blase attitude that makes many of the songs unique.

Along with the above track, a few of the songs are punchy and bass-driven with a more aggressive punky sound, like “The Race,” “Two,” “Put Ourselves Away” - the latter adding a breezy acoustic intro, as well as a deep, repeated bassline that makes it one of the catchiest songs on the project. Tracks like “Again,” “Digging Through the Trash,” and “Building” flirt with the more bedroom/dream pop sound that other tracks feature more heavily. These include “Perfect,” the single, “1001,” and the instrumental interludes, “Of More Being” and “Wallpaper.” “Destiny” and “Distraction” end up on the dreamy side, particularly in the falsetto-based hook on “Destiny,” as well as the distorted, washed-out intro to “Distraction” that resembles the sound of waves washing onshore.

The most unique track from the others is “The News” - a simple bass-and-vocals song, with a brief visit from a simple piano riff. Though all of the songs are full of introspective, self-aware but to-the-point lyrics, “The News” does this especially well. The lyrics seem to tell a quick anecdote of feeling a dissonance between what others expect and who Ned wants to be. Ned opens the track with “Headline said that I didn’t know what to do/Now I got to prove them wrong/Got to show them that I’m strong” - ending with “Saw my face up on the news/It said now he’s got to choose/What does he want to be a singer or a saint?/And I said neither.”

As a whole, this is a fantastic record. It’s a quicker listen with a lot of diversity and variety. The shorter songs, as well as the multiple sounds and moods, make this a really easy record to get into for folks from various musical backgrounds. Additionally, the choice to make production sound a little more polished versus previous Glitterer releases makes it more appealing to those who tend don’t listen to DIY artists as much as those on the radio. Again, many of these tracks would be right at home on your favorite indie radio station, while still remaining unique and maintaining a genuine feel.

My favorite tracks are Anxious Eyes, 1001, Two, and Put Ourselves Away.

Looking Through the Shades is streaming now on Apple Music, Spotify, and Bandcamp, which you can check out below.


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