I don't quite know where to start, but the new(ish) Ghosts on TV album seems the most appropriate place given it's the album I've listened to most over the last 2 months, and their last album 'I Am Not Dead, I Am 55 Today' was, after all, our '2020 Album of the Year'.
Of course the worry with this dubious accolade is that their new self titled album 'Ghosts on TV' might not have lived upon to the same expectations, and there's no doubt that it did take some listening to over the 1st week after release. But the rewards are certainly there, it's without question a more diverse and (somehow) fulfilling album than the debut, yet still retains intense sections of post rock beauty and sustained passages of gorgeous instrumental noise.
I only had chance to read what the band have said about the album after I'd been listening for a while, and their perspective is quite interesting: "When we began making our sophomore studio album it took a more multifaceted form compared to our previous efforts. In doing so, however, it also began to branch out into new territories and transcend what we previously have sonically built on.... That is why we felt this album should be our self-titled album, it is a concrete statement of our band and its roots as it stands today'.
The Rose That Provides the Honey' opens the album, and it's a promising start, building slowly with guitars offering a siren like call to listeners, the inevitably repeated theme building until the most blissful chord change at exactly 3:18 offers the type of euphoric spine tingling moment that I love this band for, and then the music soars away if the band have somehow opened up a vortex into worlds unknown. The distorted guitars in 'Life in Plastic' sound great, and as nervous as I am about the success of the 1st vocals, it works pretty well, and the barrage of instrumentals in the last half of the track offer something more than post rock, a clear demonstration of how this band have taken on wider influences for their 2nd full length release.
But then 'Routines' is an absolute highlight, a stunning 3 minute instrumental opening, before vocals offer a melancholy tune, and when the collective guitarists sweep back in the contrast is powerful and immersive, it'll lift you off your feet - whilst the ending is almost overwhelming. And the switch to the piano led 'Sheets of Blue' again demonstrates the broadening versatility of the band, a soft evocative ballad that builds in stature and emotion - a brave but entirely successful change in direction.
'Sunshine' is a fuzzy pop song, evoking to an extent bands such as 'The Jesus and Mary Chain' and similar in the era, a shoegaze and alternative rock fusion, the emphasis on the sustained guitars, yet with a cello somehow making itself heard above the racket.
However I can't deny my absolutely favourite is still 'Muljutus', a thumping almost brutal barrage of guitar noise, offering a onslaught of apocolyptic post rock, 12 minutes of intertwining repeated themes, building not just in volume but in pace, concluding with a frenetic finale that surely has to be heard live to be fully appreciated. And it all ends with the beautiful 'In Flux', where the bands ability to sustain goosebump inducing sonic melodies is again demonstrated, and there's a simplicity to it that makes it even more appealing - these guys could play a version of 'Three Blind Mice' and make it sound like a Mahler symphony.
'Ghosts of TV' is of course spectacular. I could easily blame them for my Nordic Music Review silence for the last 3 months, because quite frankly why would I ever want to listen to anything else. Their debut was definitely there up with the very best post rock releases but of course it's true, it was 'just another' instrumental post rock band doing their thing, and now Ghosts of TV have quite literally found their voice, and also their soul. It's a powerful and totally absorbing album that emphasises why this band are amongst the best that Scandinavia has to offer. See you in Helsinki.
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