Cherry Ghost - Beneath This Burning Shoreline
Critic's darlings Cherry Ghost are back. Fresh from the success of their 2007 debut Thirst For Romance, the band have resurfaced with an absolute gem. Working with Dan Austin (Doves, Massive Attack), Simon Aldred and the boys have created an album's worth of richly textured, beautifully crafted songs that you will want to listen to again and again.
The 13 tracks that make up Beneath The Burning Shoreline are like tales in an American Gothic novella. The characters that populate the songs weave in and out of the music like stories from Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg Ohio and you are there with them, watching as their little lives unfold before you: loss, regret, revenge and disillusionment, the songs run the gamut of emotions all wrapped up in beautiful melodies and sung in Aldred's distinctive voice. 'We Sleep On Stones' is like a midnight train coming into town, the music's relentless energy and the eerie wail of guitars adds to the lyrics' disturbing imagery: "We sleep on stones / there's a killer in our homes that drives the night in." The deceptively peppy 'Only A Mother Could', about domestic abuse and getting your own back, and 'The Night They Buried Sadie Clay' are great examples of the album's narrative brilliance.
The sweeping musical arrangements keep the songs from descending into pretentiousness or self-indulgent gloom. Take the achingly beautiful 'My God Betrays' or the sad 'Barberini Square' with its melancholy acoustic guitar keeping Aldred's plaintive tenor company, both elegantly unfolding the loss and betrayal that haunts the characters. After a brief instrumental interlude it's the wonderful 'Black Fang' with its jangling electric guitar (sure to one of the highlights of the live show) adding some much needed levity to the proceedings: "Be my midnight swimmer...be my cold-blooded killer and I will be your fingertips." The trippy 'Diamond In The Grind' and 'Strays At The Ice Pond' with its mournful carnival sound, close the album.
Fans of the their first album will not be disappointed with this stunning follow-up. Clever, intriguing and just plain gorgeous Beneath The Burning Shoreline will no doubt top a few critic's "Best of '10" lists and rightly so. Cherry Ghost are on fire.