Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gravenhurst - The Ghost in the Daylight review

It seems weird that I stumbled across Gravenhurst for the first time a few weeks ago and this week a new album comes out. As such, The Ghost in the Daylight is the first length album I've heard by them and it's actually pretty great. When I say them, I actually mean him as Gravenhurst is one guy named Nick Talbot who pretty much plays everything on his records. Talbot is an artist prowling the dark edges of our consciousness and the music and lyrics are at turns isolated, haunted and despondent. The immediate comparison in sound might be Red House Painters if Mark Kozelek had a fascination with shoegaze or Nick Drake if he lightened up a little - just a little.

While the music is largely pastoral, there is the occasional interjections of fuzzed out guitars that elevate and disturb the music like little squalling earthquakes (see The Prize and Islands). A closer comparison would be distinctly Australian: I'm pretty sure he's never heard of the band Art of Fighting, a Melbourne indie band that have quietly released angelic indie pop for the last fifteen years or so. There is a great similarity in both tone and sound between these bands even if it is coincidental but that's not a bad thing.

Lyrically, it's a bummer. A Miniature seemingly explores the investigation of a murdered girl and to give you an idea the chorus is the line, "Stained with the prayers from ships that sink like the hearts of the lonely when nobody cares." While the lyrics are downbeat they are never less than beautiful and the strongest song here, The Prize floats on the hook of "Still the ties that bind us blind us to the emptiness of the prize." Coming off like a more angelic Carry Me Ohio, it barrels towards an orchestral psyche guitar freak out coda which is beautiful and unexpected.

The Ghost in the Daylight can stray into territory which is slight and forgettable but mostly it is grounded in a melancholic heart which is drunk on the sadness of our existence. I can't say this is for everyone but if you like the sad songs, ever loved Nick Drake or in the mood to get foetal and lost in memories of regret and loss, this could be your perfect companion.


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