Ghosts of Electricity - ‘Music to get Puppies to Sleep’
A year after their debut album, Ghosts of Electricity (GoE) are back with their sophomore effort, ‘Music to get Puppies to Sleep’, to be released in early July.
Where the heck did this album come from, I ask myself? Overall, this release is a totally different beast from GoE’s debut album, Trolls. That was dominated by riff-heavy, punk-inspired songs, played at a frenetic pace. On this release, however, the band for the most part can’t be accused of having any obvious punk influences. This is an album with a split personality. On one hand, it contains some well-crafted, complex pop songs, while many of the others are musically sparse and spoken. Following the classic guitar, bass and drums of Trolls, the importance of keyboards on this album is both surprising and welcome, while the glockenspiel promised in post-Trolls interviews appears on many of the songs also. Regardless of the style, the songs are as interesting lyrically as you might expect from a GoE release, featuring a great deal of intelligent observational humour and social commentary.
Some of the songs that connect most immediately with me, as a rationalist, are those that less than subtlety critique the anti-fluoridation and anti-vaccination movements. First track up, ‘The People Look Like Ochre at Last’, is spoken in its delivery, King Missile in style, and singer Tim Fowler puts his feet in the sandals of new-agers; “Don’t drink fluoride, it hardens your brain” sings Tim. Later, in ‘When I was Young’, he sings; “We didn’t need to be immunised, we just cured polio the natural way, which, you know, was to die, become disabled”, followed by an extended section of coughing. Even what on the surface are the funniest of songs, we are provided with some biting social commentary. Brilliant.
Given Trolls explored social issues and was seemingly so politically correct, dealing with themes like racism and gender, the contrasting song titles on this album are glaring; ‘Young MILFs In Your Area’, ‘Beer Castle’ (the one song that would have fitted comfortably on Trolls) and, in particular, ‘Tits out for the Boys’. This is seemingly GoE in a much lighter mood.
The highlight of the album for me is the second track, ‘Cultural Show’, which is a sort of sea-shanty styled piece of noise-pop. While a lot of the album is spoken word, this tune sees Tim singing from the chest. Fascinating and addictive, I rate this as probably the best song I have heard from the band to date, and I can imagine this will be an epic and intense song to experience live. ‘Stay at Home’ is also excellent, made unique by including what seems to be samples of some Gregorian bass chants.
Overall, this is a really interesting album, featuring some excellent songs and sounds, with thought provoking and challenging lyrics. How are these songs going to translate live? I can’t wait to see. - Ian Duggan