Vampires seem to represent humanity’s fear of what lurks in the shadows—fanged and bloodthirsty, they gaze out from the darkness, searching for prey. For Portland musician Mira Glitterhound, vampires possess the power she craves in her disempowering experiences as a trans woman. With her band Sweeping Exits, Glitterhound positions the creatures as agents of revenge in cinematic glam-punk narratives that turn others’ hate into sustenance.
Though she’s played under the Sweeping Exits moniker for about 10 years, Glitterhound introduced this concept with their 2016 EP The Projectionist. In velvety compositions that pull from baroque pop, doo-wop, and rock operas, she told the story of a projectionist who devours predatory men in her movie theater’s audience until they’re reduced to bones.
The EP served as a prequel to Sweeping Exits’ full-length debut, Glitter & Blood. Joined by Myrrh Crow (vocals, keys), Shanley Narens (strings), Nia Fae Loy (bass), and Logan White (drums), Glitterhound (vocals/guitars/arrangements) imagines the demise of the human race, which is choreographed by the omnipotent vampire queen, Desmond.
Her apocalyptic domination unfolds across 16 songs, against gothic organ, wailing electric guitar riffs, the emotional swells of strings, and the Roy Orbison-inspired croons and demonic yelps of Glitterhound, who acts as the listener’s tour guide through this strange world.
Glitter & Blood is labyrinthine, and sometimes difficult to navigate—it’s easy to get lost in the expansive narrative—but the ideas driving these lyrics feel very real. For instance, on standout track “Bigotry and Barbecue,” Glitterhound recounts an experience of having men yell hateful slurs at her. But this time, she’s Desmond the vampire: “Who’s the victim now?” she asks. “Surely not me/You taste so good/You taste like hate marinated in a lack of education.”
“How Does It Feel?” digests the venom of prejudice similarly. It’s a two-minute punk explosion, and the rawest moment of Glitter & Blood. At the height of the vampiric takeover, Glitterhound viciously growls, “Now it’s our turn, look what we’ve done/Now it’s our turn, nowhere to run/How does it feel?”
Sweeping Exits’ debut is an exceptionally brilliant concept album. Throughout the complex plot of Glitter & Blood, the vampires—the queer characters—are the heroes, not the victims.