On their debut album, All of Them, local pop ensemble Glad Rags explore how interpersonal transgressions can ripple through creative communities, and even as they grapple with anger and grief, they never lose the sense of joyful discovery that underground scenes can provide. Led by vocalist-keyboardist and Sex No Babies member Mable Gladly, Glad Rags have a core lineup of six members, but the album features contributions from 15 musicians, including drummer Benjamin Karas of experimental rock group Evasive Backflip and woodwind player Karolina Prus. Based on several instances of harm that Glad Rags members have witnessed in their creative circles, All of Them incorporates narratives that address a variety of timely themes (sexual violence, cancel culture) while questioning the responsibility of individuals within a scene to build safer, more supportive arts spaces.
Gladly wrote, arranged, and mixed much of the album and collaborated on lyrics with three of the band’s core members—vocalist and synth player Jacqueline Baker, vocalist Mar Yann, and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Sundlof. The music blends disco, new wave, and chamber pop, and Glad Rags’ use of cello, sitar, and programmed beats recalls when indie bands such as Arcade Fire made waves in the early 2010s with dance beats and synth flourishes that could compete with any EDM-inspired post-recession pop; meanwhile, a rotating cast of seven singers adds perspective, like a Greek chorus in a stage play. On “I Used to Be (Happy),” Baker ponders how the scene will respond to a predator’s return: “Will we turn him ’round and kick him out / Or say, ‘Hello. What’s up brother? How ya doing?’” A group of background singers respond “blah blah blah,” suggesting this creep isn’t even worth an answer. All of Them feels like a community theater troupe coming together to produce a musical dedicated to telling one guy to fuck off. While their album is filled with righteous anger, Glad Rags don’t let that get in the way of the groove. All of Them celebrates resilience through communal creativity, so it’s fitting that Glad Rags will debut the album live at one of the first shows on the Hideout’s intimate stage as the club brings concerts back inside for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Glad Rags, Living Thing Sat 11/6, 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, $12, 21+