Glosser performs at Union Stage on March 23, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
I am a great fan of synthpop duos — Eurythmics, Yahoo, the Pet Shop Boys and others put their stamp on me as a kid in the ’80s. Let me now recommend to you new DC dreampop band Glosser, a synthpop duo whose fresh album DOWNER is honestly a bit of a pick-me-up!
I recently caught Glosser live at Union Stage, not knowing they would be on the bill. While I wasn’t paying attention then, I am certainly paying attention now.
In 2021, Riley Fanning and Corbin Sheehan teamed for a self-titled Glosser EP, produced by DC man-of-the-moment Bartees Strange. They returned to the studio to self-release Downer earlier this year. The 11-track album begins with the brief title track, which sets the tone for not fully dead romantic yearnings over stirring synth arrangements that may remind you of other dreampop bands like Still Corners (another duo!) or Beach House (yet another duo!).
Riley’s breathy coolness is reminiscent of Lana Del Rey without being so self-aware. While she sometimes sounds disaffected, she often reaches toward life over loss, such as in the hopeful track “Disco Girls.”
Watch the official music video for “Disco Girls” by Glosser on YouTube:
I was surprised enough to encounter Glosser that I didn’t make much of a note of what songs they performed in what sequence in their opening set for Dragonette at Union Stage on March 23. It’s easy to let yourself get lost in the moment. In the stage act, Riley swept from side to side, cooling crooning into her microphone or holding it aloft for dramatic emphasis. Behind her, Corbin chimed away on a Nord Stage 2, deeply focusing on the synthesizer rig before him.
The duo occasionally become unpredictable on songs like “Last of the Good Times,” which certainly adopts an electro-gospel vibe when the beat drops after the first moment. But maybe the best songs are the ones that fit the “Glosser formula” — a literate melancholy evident in songs like the empty spaces of “Forever” or the frozen scenes of “Movies.”
Glosser next appear live tomorrow — March 30 — opening Elio at DC9. The show already is sold out, but do arrive early for Glosser if you have a ticket. Otherwise, stay tuned to their touring plans for hopes of new shows soon.
And when you do catch the band, be sure to bring a friend (who will surely thank you for the introduction to the music). As Glosser remind us, it’s good to be a duo.
Here are some photos of Glosser performing at Union Stage on March 23, 2023. All photos by Mickey McCarter.