It wasn’t for nothing that Turnstile’s 2018 effort Time & Space made some considerable waves in the heavy music scene, earning AOTY awards from countless publications and being dubbed “the new shape of punk to come” by NME. That record was a prime example of ingenuity through simplicity, taking the often formidable framework of grisly hardcore and stripping it down to offer something fresh, exciting and most of all fun, in a genre not exactly known for its lightheartedness.
Glow On is similarly filled to the brim with raucous bouncing riffs, infectious shouted choruses and energetic tracks that you’ll wish lasted just a little bit longer, but it also builds upon that foundation considerably, aiming for something far more ambitious and yet still pulling it off so confidently that the band make it look easy. Glow On is intricate and dynamic compared to its predecessor, frequently switching up its approach and yet always sticking the landing.
At times Glow On is Turnstile at their frenzied, moshpit-inducing best. Surging lead-single ‘Holiday’ and the lively ‘T.L.C. (Turnstile Love Connection)’ are packed with all the power and verve you could wish for, but elsewhere the band drift into new territories. Opener ‘Mystery’ might boast a driving punk riff but the chorus wouldn’t feel out of place in an arena, whilst ‘Don’t Play’ manages to balance a funky groove with meaty guitars, as well as bongos, some melodious piano keys and even a brief stint of hair metal guitar theatrics. This madness is immediately followed by ‘Underwater Boi’, where the band promptly veer off into a hazy indie daydream.
Glow On makes no excuses for its diverse tracklisting, coming across like a mixtape and yet one that’s surprisingly cohesive, managing to integrate the band’s various experiments (including two collaborations with musical polymath Blood Orange) without sacrificing the upbeat hardcore energy that has served them so well thus far. Even when they’re at their heaviest, the band are having a rollicking good time, and even when things do get deep, as on ‘Fly Again’ (”Still can’t fill the hole you left behind”), the band manage to feel intensely passionate without coming across as angry, desperate or fearful.
Turnstile have here refused to turn their back on their signature style whilst simultaneously transcending the hardcore genre from which they first sprung. It’s a tough trick to pull off for sure but they’ve done it with aplomb, keeping each track anthemic and summery to the point that the album’s release coinciding with a brief UK heatwave seems wonderfully apposite. It’s been a while since a band has so adeptly walked the line between heaviness and accessibility too, so here’s hoping this one becomes a gateway album for heavy music newcomers.
Glow On is out now via Roadrunner Records and can be ordered here.
Words: George Parr