Safe Sins, the debut record from Philadelphia band Gladie, begins with a prayer: “I close my eyes, pretend to pray/That this shame would just fuck off today,” sings Augusta Koch, her familiar timbre floating atop a wave of bleary-eyed synths on opener “Pray.” Koch, formerly of beloved Philly trio Cayetana, has been working on the 10 songs that comprise Safe Sins for years. They existed first as poems before being brought to life at The Bunk in Henryville, Pennsylvania, where Koch (guitar, vocals) recorded with bandmates Matt Schimelfenig (guitar, bass, keyboard, vocals), Ian Farmer (bass), and Pat Conaboy (drums). Schimelfenig also produced and mixed the record.
The record’s opener gives way to a rush of guitars and both digital and analog drums on the spritely “When You Leave The Sun,” a strut in crisp morning sunlight: “On the bright days, I can see the light/When the chemicals blend just right,” Koch calls brightly. It’s followed by lead single “A Pace Far Different,” a guitar-forward bop haunted by chiming keys and pleas for escape. Scattered throughout, between wiry guitar melodies, drum triggers, and cavernous synth patches, are small, insistent mantras: “We give ‘em credit, we don’t owe ‘em that much,” on “Even At Your Easel,” or the soothing nihilism of “Cosmic Joke,” as Koch declares, “Everything I lost, I never really had.”
Safe Sins is defined equally by pain and hope, two opposing forces of human existence. The record acknowledges that on some days, the former wins; on the good ones, the latter does. But neither are static endpoints. Both are places we visit often. Gladie are set upon making sure the path between them stays open, as Koch shouts firmly on “Twenty Twenty:” “I am angry, I am lonely, but I am optimistic, too!”