Turnstile are a very strange band. Since hitting it big with 2018’s Time & Space, they’ve ridden the line between heavy and mainstream rock better than any group in recent memory. Glow On is a doubling-down on Turnstile’s influences, smashing together punk, grunge, post-punk and hardcore to make something truly unique. Fans of Pup, Beartooth and The Offspring should already be scrolling through Spotify.
You never know what you are going to get with a new Turnstile track. They tend to jump genres in the middle of songs. “Blackout” starts out like classic skate punk, then it drops into a percussion break before ending with a riff worthy of Hatebreed. If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is. The sound is definitely rooted in punk, but that is such a broad genre at this point that it's easy to mix and match styles. Turnstile do this over and over on speed runs like “Underwater Boi” and “Endless” to earworms like “Dance-Off”.
The band knows their audience well enough to keep things punchy and short. The longest song on Glow On barely breaks the three-minute mark. Most clock in around two and a half. It helps that Turnstile can write catchy riffs, because that way when the track ends, the listeners immediately want to play it again. It also means that Turnstile will be able to pack most of Glow On into their live setlist. Many of the tracks seem made to play in concert.
Things hit peak weirdness in the middle of the album with “Alien Love Call”. This is a chilled out piece of naval gazing indie rock featuring Blood Orange (Dev Hynes of Test Icicles). As an experiment, it's a failure. Blood Orange’s rhymes and delivery are mediocre at best and the whole thing brings Glow On's momentum to a crashing halt. This maybe could have worked as an outro or hidden track. But as a centerpiece between “Fly Again” and “Wild Wrld” (both great songs), it’s baffling. It’s not like Blood Orange has nothing to contribute. He shows up again on “Lonely Dezires” and kills it. Hopefully this is a one-off misfire that will not be repeated.
Even with that hiccup, Glow On is great. It’s more consistent than Time & Space, the heavy parts heavier and the lighter parts more airy. The vocals remain drowned in reverb and the songs awash with distinct guitar effects. Singer Brendan Yates is still the focal point around which Glow On revolves. It’s difficult to imagine what the band would sound like without him, his breathless delivery kicking things up to another level every time it sounds like it’s slowing down. Drummer Daniel Fang (awesome name) deserves a shout out for all the percussion he adds to Glow On. The cowbell or wood block breaks are reminiscent of Soundgarden’s classic “Spoonman” and they bring a nice danceable angle that is missing from a lot of this genre.
Turnstile come from the newer school of punk. They aren’t here to make statements or complain about their real lives. They are here for a good time and to make sure you have one too. There really isn’t much more anyone could ask from a hardcore band.