Oh my… Dirt Cult Records brings in another A-mazing, sentimental post punk record that will surely be breaking your personal charts in the very near future. All you need to do is press the play button and get your physical copy via this location. BABY GHOSTS are my new obsession!
Jangly, quirky, dreamy, and lo-fi punk from Provo, UT. I suppose you’d call it “indie” if that label meant anything at all anymore. Maybe Ghosts is filled to the brim with reverb soaked male/female vocal harmonies, minor chords, and a few swirling guitars here and there. This release brings to mind some of my favorite early Lookout releases from the likes of Cub and Go Sailor, but while these songs come across as sugary and sweet they start to reveal a darker edge with repeated listens. Come to think of it, the cover art really says it all – “hey that’s a really cute kitty…holy shit! That kitty is wearing corpse paint!” / Dirt Cult Records
There’s a niche for cozy little indie-pop bands that are meant to take the edge off our hardened punk backs and that’s where bands like Sweden’s Makthaverskan as well as the likes of Now, Now and Tancred pop to mind (albeit because just recently I had them all in my player). Well, if you haven’t heard of Baby Ghosts before, push them right to the top of that list. Coincidentally, these bands aren’t out there coining any phrases for their genre a la fans who look to things like “The Wave” or “The Emo-Revival” to classify their blood, sweat and tears. But, what these droopy, melody-scattered bands do is break down barriers between punk, indie and shoegaze, just to name a few, and add a (dare I say) cuteness to an indie scene draped with several bands balancing warm tempos and tones with neat post-punk montages. In an era where Dads and TWIBAP etc strike said balance, Baby Ghosts can now be heavily considered a poster-band for the lighter end of the spectrum. And that’s where Maybe Ghosts comes in. It isn’t just another wonderful addition to their catalog – it’s actually an exclamation mark to how brilliant they punctuate this genre (or it’s mash-ups).
The SLC quartet love making heart-on-sleeve music, as their 7″ showed last year. It was faster-paced compared to this album and had a bigger punk influence but dialing things back a notch really paid dividends. Lively? Indie? Brit-pop? Check, check…and check!!! Baby Ghosts remain committed to melodic upbeat tracks atypical of their ethereal musical presence. “Ghost Boyfriend” and “Oil-Sunshine” are testament to this and stocks up on poppy hooks, radiant blasts of solos and overall, a great rock and roll vibe. In fact, the guitars drive home a huge 80s feel that negates a lot of their old-school punk sprawls with which many have become familiar. It’s a bold stroke shifting in this direction but genius nonetheless. That’s the kind of ambitious sprawl Baby Ghosts aim for and pull off so well.
Comparisons can also be made to Honeyblood and La Sera given that a lot of oohs and croons make their way to the surface on a couple tracks. It’s much more relaxed and a great respite especially as you sense a growing confidence and assured sound in their instruments. Power-pop and corroded-punk collide at these intervals. You can tell they deliberately space the record out to suit this musical arrangement and leave breathing room for the listener. “Crash” is one of these recesses and a magnificent antagonist for the straight-laced punk setup of “MSRPRSNTTN” which adds a flavor of contrast to combat how their new-wave sound translates against fits of sporadic punk. The latter song jams in mid-tempo stomps while stretching the record into more feisty territory before easing off the gas again. It’s definitely mid-ground and separates the calmer beginning of the album from what ensues later on. Hearing these tunes oppose the synth-heavy sections and anthemic portions of the record make for an amazing musical debate as it feels like inner-turmoil in the recording session. “Existing!” best sums up this discord and sets the stage for overdrive.
Ultimately, while toned down and laid back at the starting line, the record’s conclusion lashes out more – it’s restless, brash and filled with pained howls. Again, a delicate balance is well struck with similarities to Brianna Collins of Tiger Jaw coming at you in inviting, thrusting melodies yet feeling like the shouty, aggression of Adventures. It’s memorable though how things pick up in these closers – nothing too disruptive but with a more-than-mild temper. These end-songs do well not to swap out the catchy spine of Maybe Ghosts while leaving signature footprints on the album’s legacy. At first it felt like maybe this lack of restraint could scupper the end of the album and throw off the listener a bit but there’s so much compassion and romantic wistfulness amid the low-brow rage, you suddenly remember if it’s one band that can make these musical dilemmas work, it’s Baby Ghosts. This is a big statement from them and arguably, the one to put them on the map. I can see them stepping out the shadows already.
There’s a grace to their chaos. Charming, elegant, yet one you know not to fuck with. Baby Ghosts are ready for the big leagues. Maybe Ghosts is ostensibly strong and filled with the momentum to push them on and I’ll bet they’ll be channeling this drive into bigger and better things. / PunkNews.org