Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Album Review: John Grant- Pale Green Ghost

John Grant
Pale Green Ghosts
***and1/2 out of *****
This is a brutally personal album from John Grant that moves between piano ballad pomp and digital sparseness. After his critically acclaimed first solo release The Queen of Denmark, Grant recorded this follow up in Iceland working with Biggi Veira of the electro-pop group Gus-Gus. There is a distinct dance vibe especially early in the album but Grant is just as at home singing about himself with minimal club beats or big piano fills and crescendos.

The two influences that seemed to pop up couldn't be more divergent yet Grant seems to take pieces of both Harry Nilsson and Depeche Mode into his songs. Tracks like "I Hate This Town" are direct, complete with piano and Sinead O'Connor background vocals but there is also the "Why Don't You Love Me Any More?" side of things (also with O'Connor) that twists dark digital vibes while also remaining direct. 

The easy standout is "GMF" that should be redone by a ballsy MC in an over the top boast fest. The songs humor and proud proclaiming induces smiles as acoustic guitars strum, descending bass runs, electro keys all swell gloriously. This has to be one of the most infectious, honest and painfully funny songs of the year the hook will last with you as will the melody. "Vietnam" has some great wordplay while opening title track pulses along at a slow pace and stunts the true opening on the album the punchy minimal dance styled  "Blackbelt"

"Ernest Borgnine" seems to be the catch all track and the best example of Grant on Pale Green Ghosts.  Directly addressing his recent HIV-Positive diagnosis with honesty and humor over quirky disco clips before a smooth saxophone enters and flows throughout. Perhaps lasting a minute too long the track though brings in everything Grant is currently about. The painful life issues cause Grant to use humor as a defense but never shrinking from the truth wins points all around.

Running time is an issue, both in individual song times and overall length, Grant has lots to say about himself and relationships, Pale Green Ghosts does seem overly abundant especially in the middle of the disk. That said Grant seems confident in his experimentation musically and his next album could just as easily be a punk effort or a oprea piece and he will have no shortage of material. 
Another suggestion (Thanks Lindsey) and while not completely our style we can see some interesting things in Grant's music. It's true his back-story adds depth, but back stories only get you so far, his experimentation seems to be key and balancing all that can be tricky. Grant is an artist that is worth hearing, and GMF is one of the best tracks of the year in any genre.

Support the Artist here, buy the disk here, you can stream it here and peep some video below:  


1 comment:

  1. Great review! I totally agree about the song lengths being the big pitfall of this album, and you're so right about being able to hear influences of Nilsson and Depeche Mode.