In that tide of new and exciting music we’re often swarmed under sometimes new albums by artists you’ve enjoyed can completely pass you by. I remember vividly hearing Ghostpoet’s debut album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam back in 2011 and having the squelchy synth of I Just Don’t Know being a constant appearance on many of the playlists I made that year. Well now it’s 2017 and I seem to have missed two follow up albums and find myself in possession of Ghostpoet’s fourth release: Dark Days & Canapés. Listening to the new album I’m half kicking myself for not keeping an eye out on him and half excited that I can now go back and check out the albums I’ve missed – it’s like three new albums at once!
Starting with One More Sip, a nightmare kaleidoscope of pulsing synthesized noises and distorted spoken word, Dark Days & Canapés sets out its intent immediately. At one minute thirty though it’s a strange choice to open with but in the scale of things completely harmless. The real thrill comes on second track Many Moods At Midnight, which is an absolute stand out – a clash of dark Radiohead-esque rhythms, overdriven piano, clean yet filthy guitars and deep purring vocals.
The new single, Trouble + Me, continues to explore this thicker fuller sound, while hints of glitches and loops pop up here and there, the tracks are bonded with a solid skeleton of beautifully arranged organic instruments. Throughout the album this line between organic and synthetic sounds is blurred as they battle for prominence. Sometimes one side wins, such as on Karoshi, which sounds a lot closer to the opening intro or something from Ghostpoet’s debut album; other times the organic sounds win but often there is a delicate balance that glues the album together with a winning coherence.
Lyrically Dark Days & Canapés explores exactly the sort of territory you’d expect from it’s title. The UK seems to be edging closer to an abyss and Ghostpoet uses this concern as fuel for the record. While horrendous events such as the Grenfell Tower fire mean more people, previously blind to misdeeds by authority, seem to be being shaken from their mirrored bubble there is still some way to go. Blind as a Bat... considers this with the refrain “In my head it’s all just palm trees and appletinis”. Elsewhere the powerful first single Immigrant Boogie looks to expand the listeners worldview by being written from a refugee’s perspective and features the heartbreaking second verse:
“I was dreaming of a better life
With my two kids and my lovely wife
But I can’t swim and water’s in my lungs
So here it ends, when life had just begun”
Other stand out moments include Dopemine If I Do with its stabs and sweeps of strings and sultry female vocals, while the country-esque swagger of penultimate track Woe Is Meee ensures even the end of the album sounds fresh and always an engaging and thought provoking experience.
Available on vinyl, limited white vinyl, CD and digitally though Play It Again Sam, from August 18th. You can pre-order the album now from here.