Album Reviews

Glüme – Main Character

(Italians Do It Better) UK release date: 17 February 2023

An excellently eclectic album that sets its star up as the next big thing in synth-pop, with Rufus Wainwright and Sean Ono Lennon along for the ride

Glüme - Main Character Listen up, sad femmes! It’s time to put down your copy of The Bell Jar and stop that Lux Lyall & Lana Del Rey playlist, because Glüme is centre stage, so you’re going to want to grab your champagne and pay attention.

Music has always been about personas. From Ziggy Stardust to Hannah Montana, adopting a persona can help the artist challenge their fears, process events, or just carve out who it is they wish to be. This is expressly true of Glüme, a starlet born from her host ending up bed-bound and chronically ill. Glüme’s 2021 debut album The Internet built up her dream persona: Old Holywood, sophisticated, energetic, effortless beauty, full of cinematic, rose-tinted glamor and eternal, ethereal depression.

On seeing a picture of this LA-based ingénue you’d be forgiven for thinking Marilyn Monroe had a daughter, Glüme’s halo of blonde curls, Lolita style and fetish showgirl outfits providing the perfect visual setting for her eclectic and inspiring second album, Main Character. Glüme’s ascent to infamy was way overdue, and in Main Character she rises to bring us an eclectic album full of collaborations with big-time musicians – not least Rufus Wainwright on the title track and Sean Ono Lennon popping up on not one but three songs – you’ll gasp at. Because this is what happens when the sick learn to thrive.

We begin the album with Child Actor, an eerie, breathy lament on the treatment of children on screen: “How can I live in the moment if I haven’t found one that’s comfortable yet?” with hypnotic synth undertow. Do Me A Favor wouldn’t be out of place on a Ladytron album, lamenting synths turning euphoric, joyful, reminding us that Glüme’s strengths lie in pop ditties with fantastic beats, aided and abetted by Italians Do It Better label boss Johnny Jewel.

Next comes Brittany, the masterpiece on Main Character, a sapphic banger full of sunrise sonic rainbows, and the bubblegum complexities of female attraction “In the pool, I thought it strange, I like girls but my mom was the one I couldn’t change” and “Brittany likes the music loud, can you please turn it up” laments parental views on the subject of bi/pansexuality whilst “she’s got a husband, I’ll get one too, but she has my heart between me and you” and “I just… women” celebrate the joy of loving girls – and will be your earworms for the next six months. This roadtrip adjacent, memory-filled trip of a track is a filmic accompaniment just begging to play over the closing credits of a queer indie film.

Dangerous Blue dives deepest into electro, Glüme back to basics, the montage scene to Britney’s end credits. We next plunge into the eponymous track, Main Character – a ballad, the opening piano back, a track that teases an unfolding then delivers with Rufus Wainwright, with the two vocals overlaid to an almost heartbreaking level.

And here’s where we take a turn for the eclectic. A spoken word minute of childhood memories lets us pause, dreamy harp. Flicker Flicker bounces us into a dubstep rap number and Garden Of Eden wouldn’t be out of place in a David Lynch film, off-centre lilting vocals and a siren-like synthetic effects. Queen Of LA is the most Lana Del Rey of the tracks, a running beat with dreamy vocals. And Main Character ends the way all old-musicals should, with Main Character Overture sweeping us back through the tracks with orchestral dramatics. Once more with feeling for Child Actor (reprise) and we’re finished, the world of Glüme closes off to us once more, just for a while.

When you’re bed-bound, sometimes all you have is hope. Having carved out the Glüme persona in her debut, Main Character cements Glüme’s status as the next big thing in synth-pop with this too cool for school unable-to-pin-down-to-a-genre journey through the pitfalls of Hollywood stardom. Peel back this filter just a little, and you’ll see Main Character as a triumphant place to hold sadness, celebrate queerness, channel childhood trauma, and perform to romantic heights. With a little tightening, and discarding the mostly musical filler tracks, this is an excellent album that shows great further potential, execution of style, and the bliss in achieving things you’d only once hoped for.

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Glüme – Main Character