Meursault’s fourth album might actually be haunted, and I don’t just mean by that spotty bed-sheet on the cover. Or maybe it’s something to do with my continuing to listen to it whilst walking past The Meadows, often around 2am. Either way, it feels like there’s a definite ghost story at its heart.
Hints are dropped throughout: a visitation from Jackson C Frank here, title of lead single Klopfgeist there – the latter beginning with lines which achieve the rare trick of being beautifully mournful whilst also being re-fashionable into a half-decent dad joke. (‘Q: How is Sinatra like a spirit? A: They both have ties to the underworld.’) That named character, though, is more to the point: something like a poltergeist, only with less chucking and more chapping.
From the opening tracks creaking their way into existence before exploding into the spelt-out samples that herald the moonrise of The Mill, I Will Kill Again hooks with its lyrical mysteries and riddles. This persistent ambiguity feels startlingly refreshing; after all, as Ode to Gremlin puts it, ‘the last thing that the world needs now is another song about the fucking sea’. After Klopfgeist achieves its curtailed catharsis, the Dylan-cadenced waltz of Oh, Sarah serves mainly as a brief but pleasant stopgap before things hit full-on lull in the shuffling and slightly aimless Belle Amie. But there are so many splendid moments throughout this album that it’s difficult to find much further to fault.
And then there’s that title track. At first, it reaches out for you like some hyperactive underwater radio broadcast, all orchestral scales and long wave cross-chat. But then, as if your would-be DJ best friend has once again clicked on the wrong playlist at your summer soirée, in come the borrowed strains of the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Christmas Time Is Here, better known as ‘that one off Charlie Brown’. It’s already the most perversely morose holiday tune in existence, and about the most counterintuitive segue you could imagine, but it works so well that all its Peanuts associations for me have now been swapped for this ostensibly homicidal lullaby – though how real its titular murders may be is more than open to interpretation.
As the song lurches to a close, it feels strangely comforting on the one hand, somehow furiously subdued on the other. And – perhaps on a previously undisclosed third hand – it’s all just a bit lonesome and boozy. In short, it’s an appropriate summing-up to an album that takes a spectacular stab at embodying what one of its snippets of borrowed dialogue nudges towards: the attempt to call out ‘as one human being to another’. Which, in the end, is all a real ghost probably is.
I Will Kill Again is released on 27th February by Song by Toad Records, pre-order here.