Former Ghosts - New Love
The second album from Freddy Ruppert to be released under the Former Ghosts guise features appearances from avant garde icons Zola Jesus and Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu), and falls about as far from easy listening as you can imagine. A melting pot of raw emotions, wounded synths and scraping percussion, this is a seriously moody collection. If you like your new-wave melodies served with a side helping of coruscating noise, New Love could be just the record for you.
This is definitely a more accessible affair than last year's Fleur though, sprinkled as it is with tracks like ‘Winter’s Year’, a yearning number propelled by a minimalistic drum pulse, which are potentially only a glossed-up production away from a shot at cracking the charts. There's still plenty of full-on gloom to be found for those most ardent of miserablists though, from crunching opener ‘The Days Will Get Long Again’, which drips with piercing digital noise, to the relentlessly downbeat clatter of ‘I Am Not What You Want’ and sparse soundscapes of the icy ‘Until You're Alone Again’.
The unmistakable vocals of Zola Jesus pierce a handful of the album’s tracks, her powerful voice dominating ‘Only in Time’’s shuffling glitches and the sweeping lo-fi intensity of ‘Chin Up’. These tracks serve as an interesting textural contrast to the numbers sung by Ruppert, whose reedy vocals veer somewhere between Bright Eyes and Brandon Flowers, his cracked tones at their most strained on the otherwise positively upbeat effort ‘New Orleans’. Fans of the harsh but melodic sound of Cold Cave are encouraged to check this one out.
An undeniably difficult and occasionally frustrating effort, New Love nonetheless creeps its way into the consciousness, with the richness of its warm emotional core amidst the cold electronic instrumentation coming to the fore with repeated listens. And of course if you find yourself in one of those moods where drowning in your own misery seems the only course of action, there are probably few better soundtracks. You might even start to cheer up in spite of yourself.