Digital Lust: A Glow in the Dark Double Album Double Review
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
In this day and age of A.I. chatbots, Hatsune Miku, and getting banned off of meta for violating the community guidelines by accident after the controller glitched out and the mod thought you were attempting to give yourself a reach around, do these machines fully understand what debauchery we use them for? Do they too dream of digital lust? Can computers and A.I. even consent? These are all really stupid questions for the time being, but sooner or later, stupid or not, we’ll have to answer them… Maybe… Honestly, probably not.
Glow in the dark is Omaha’s very own slice of synth wave, new wave, digital/musical sexpert’s, helmed by tech wiz Aaron Gum, and vocal mimic Lawrence Deal. The duo first uploaded themselves onto the music scene back in 2017 with the release of a cassette split single exclusively sold at their very first show. Some say those cassettes are still walking the streets to this day, although few have seen them since that fateful show where the bit wizards prophesied the band becoming Digital Czars, laying waste to all who oppose doing a keg stand at an 80’s frat party where the nerds finally break their shell for one last chance of becoming legends of their computer science fraternity by touching a boob.
Of course, GITDs rule would not come without strife, as a certain plague would prevent them from releasing a 2020 debut album to the world. That brings us to today. Our lordly commodore 64s have blessed us with, not a puny single album, but a shining golden double album, an exercise in excess that would make Dionysus blush. Teenline! Neurotica!
Teenline/Neurotica is a huge undertaking, especially for a debut album... Well, albums. While this is packaged as a double album, really this could act as two separate albums, and I found that while reviewing them I would frequently take breaks in between the two, sometimes even listening to them separately. They’re pretty versatile in this way, although listening to both in a row is a bit much for me, mostly because of my tiny brain and my nonexistent attention span. That being said, what has been achieved here is pretty fantastic.
If I haven’t made it clear by now, both albums deal with themes of modern technology, consumerism, and sexual fantasy, and let me tell you they are sexy, be it lyrically, tonally, or visually. This album is scantily clad. With lines such as “do these machines dream of digital lust,” “don’t sleep much, but I dream in style,” and a very breathy “they want a suck-cess,” in Modern Excess, these albums have an allure to them that is unmistakable and built into their foundation. While a lot of the themes are centered around sex, consumerism, and their various crossovers, several of the tracks deal heavily with anxiety especially in titles like Panic!, Underneath, and Prozac Morris, with such lines as “put your head down if you’re sick. Put your head down if you’re nervous,” and “I need to have control, it sets me free,” and I really enjoy the sort of duality of both sides of GITD, and the songs where the tones cross are especially fascinating.
Sonically both albums are nice and crisp with a variety of digital instruments, manned by Gum, making up the entirety of the rhythm section with Deal’s chameleon-esque vocals layered on top. I got to give it up to Gum, the instrumentals are pretty fantastic on the album. Everything feels fluid and authentic all the while being entirely synthetic. He uses a lot of creative sounds ranging anywhere from 8bit to chorus synth sounds and layers them in interesting ways that sound natural. I would love to have an instrumental version of this album. That would be prime material for some grinding out a backlog of work that you have been putting off because you put it off for too long and now it’s a mountain of small things that threaten to topple if the wind blows the wrong way. It’s too intimidating to take care of. I’ll just let it crush me if it feels like it. You know that kind of work music.
Of course, there is the second half of Glow, Deal, who has an expansive tonal range, sometimes performing tracks with the tone of crunchy Trent Reznor, and sometimes laying down lines like an 80s synth pop crooner in bands like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and Pet Shop Boys. Its clear Deal is an experienced musician, able to pinpoint what exactly is needed for each track, then execute their vision with precision. I quite like his performances in Panic!, Modern Excess, and Digital Lust, to name a few, but there really isn’t a bad performance on the album.
The standout tracks here are plentiful. On Teenline I really enjoy Gemini Looks, which is my favorite track and is a killer way to start the album, with lines like “I been running in the chemical mile”, and the aforementioned “don’t sleep much, but I dream in style”, to Phantasy with its dark and intriguing line, “being alive is just a fantasy,” over the top of one of the pop-iest sections on the album, not to mention Digital Lust, which is superbly outrun, being one of the darker, and sexier songs on the track list. On Neurotica I really enjoy Modern Excess, which feels very reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys’, West End Girls, along with the goofy, anxiety ridden Panic!, with its tin can vocals and ray gun synths. I also really enjoy Netscape and Chill, which is super intimate and plays like a chill Nine Inch Nails tune.
Of the two, I think I enjoy Teenline more, as it’s the pop-eir of the two, having the more synth wave tracks, leaving Neurotica more of the new wave tracks with darker and more serious tones. Both have their place though as sometimes I want to vibe to some moodier tracks. My only qualm with the album duo is that the mixing is kind of all over the place, with some of the goofier synth parts being a bit overbearing, like the synth that accompanies the vocal lines on the first part of the chorus in Panic!, along with the myriad of digital chaos in the Power and Shame chorus at an annoyingly loud level. Deals' vocals are also too loud in some tracks and too quiet in others. Tracks like Underneath, and Digital Lust, (I know some of my favorites), feel like the vocals needed to be turned up a smidge, while tracks like Math of the Heart, Lost Ones, and The Devil, have the vocals up high enough to be a bit overbearing, and even distracting at times. I do understand that some of these tracks were potentially recorded and mastered years ago, so it makes sense that there would be some inconsistencies. It does detract from my enjoyment of some of the tracks though.
This overall was a super cool experience. At times when reviewing this album, I felt like I was transported back in time, or listening to something that came out 30 years ago, which I believe is something Glow in the Dark aims to achieve. If I still had my 92 GEO Tracker with the cassette player, purchasing this on cassette would be a must. In fact, I might have to go buy a cassette player just for this album. Gum and Deal have taken their first step towards dominating the digisphere with Teenline/Neurotica, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
You can stream Teenline/Neurotica on all major platforms!
And check out Glow in the Dark on Youtube. They've got a ton of cool music videos.