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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
People Noise
Ordinary Ghosts

Rating: 3.8/10 ?

July 12, 2007
A decade on since the release of OK Computer, bands in the vein of Muse and Ours have upped the angst quotient, pushing for mainstream success alongside the favorites of post-grunge. At the same time, acts ranging from Hope of the States to Midlake have opted for the lesser and the more with, respectively, post-rock and light rock takes on the sound. Unfortunately, People Noise have fallen into the former camp with their debut Ordinary Ghosts, and don't offer anything to push an envelope.

Coming together after a ten year involvement with VHS or Beta, over the course of the album multi-instrumentalist Zeke Buck and drummer Matt Johnson offer some "buzzworthy" moments for your local alternative station, but nothing individual and lasting for the dedicated listener. As a whole, Ordinary Ghosts is a grandiose statement marked with fervent guitars and macabre vocals, which at times (to say the least) can be tiring. It begins with some stagnant riffs, accented by a harmonic squeal, before moving into a larger and more mechanical sound reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins and Jane's Addiction in their heyday, but on the whole the album is all it can be and not much more.

Ordinary Ghosts' opener, "The Killing Fields," as well as the subsequent "A Million Lives," mines the commercial alternative rock of the early '90's before the album settles down into the shaky falsetto of "Turn Around." As unremarkable as that may sound, the first half of the album is actually considerably stronger than the rest. The title track is a gothic coming-of-age story that proves a haunting piece of artistry. Bordering on theatrical, the song manages to remain genuine with the lyrics, "I said we'll be here for a while, so stop you're worrying/ It's only fright," yet the band never strikes a balance between its urgency and the subsequent release. "Sedation" and "The Sun & The Moon, The Moon & The Sea," respectively explore the two poles of People Noise, but they come off as bleak melodramatic fairy tales about death, neither quite resembling real sentiment.

The second half of Ordinary Ghosts moves into a gloomy territory of cringeworthy '80's excess, with over-the-top guitar intros and noise-laden outros that aren't nimble enough to be flighty nor fleshy enough to form walls of sound. Taken on their own merits, the tracks of "The Nothing Place," "Pretty Things," and "Harrison Bergeron" are put in a loaded sequence, with the closer "Older" being the only halfway tolerable cut in the mix.

The mod-new-retro-wave-rock sounds are becoming so convincing that they risk being borderless, and Ordinary Ghosts is the work of a band walking whatever fine line they can find between a decade-spanning mash-up of sounds and a derivation of the next last band you really never heard. This is isn't all that decent, there nothing's really cutting edge about it, and it could only comfortably occupy space in a record collection a couple of notches below flavor of the month and just above guilty pleasure.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill



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