This Is A Hospital
By: Eric Greenwood
The Ghost fits snugly into that crowded den of bands emoting through frantic dynamics, half-sung/half-screamed vocals, intensely personal lyrics, and post-punk noise, but please don't make me say the word. We all know what I'm talking about, so let's just move on. Keeping The Ghost's head just barely visible above its peers' is an uninhibited passion for its craft. The formula is so familiar you can predict almost every change, but The Ghost never sounds like its just going through the motions, even when it makes your skin crawl with an embarrassing lyrical gaffe or an over-extended scream.
This style of music – that will not be named – is like the bastard stepchild no one want to take credit for. It's so much maligned because of the droves of bands that simply suck at it, which kind of ruins it for the bands that do it well. You're automatically lumped in with the no talent crybabies just for showing up with the same influences. It's a curse you have to be brave enough to bare, if you want to forge beyond the unfair pigeonholing and inescapable trappings of the hipster critical circles that make or break you as you try to get your name out.
The Ghost adds some colors to the limited palette that Jawbreaker mixed and set over a decade ago. I'm not a huge fan of Brian Moss' voice, but he's certainly convincing in his desperation and anger. His shriek is throaty and guttural; however, his singing voice is somewhat non-descript. I much prefer singers who build-up to a scream a la Kurt Cobain or Justin Trosper, as opposed to the way Moss just randomly shrieks within a phrase for emphasis. The lyrics are way too melodramatic for my taste, but again, Moss is so passionate in his delivery it's hard to begrudge him a few screwy lines here and there.
Steve Albini lords over the engineering and much of The Ghost's tautness is enhanced by the knob twiddling of the world's most lovable prick. The bass is dirty and booming like old Jesus Lizard records, and the guitars pierce your ears like the first notes of Surfer Rosa. The Ghost's compositional skills certainly reveal more maturity than many of its emo-licious brethren, particularly on "Death By The Bay" and the stunningly brutal yet melodic "On And On." So, if you can extend your poetic license to include lines like this: "I'm starting a commune/all my friends are coming with no RSVP/no wait, I'm moving to the country/oh my God just let me be", then sign right up for The Ghost's relentless emotional wreckage.
This Is A Hospital is far from groundbreaking. For those unfamiliar with this genre, I can't even begin to explain how many bands sound just exactly like this. But as I said before, what separates The Ghost from most of its peers is its conviction, even in the face of ridicule. That will only get you so far, though. Points aren't docked as severely on a debut, but the next record will be judged with a much more critical ear.