Friday 16 November 2012

Ghost Carriage Phantoms - The Boy Lives

Album review by KevW

This Welsh pair certainly have a few unusual views on life (unless they're joshing), but how does this sound as a band name explanation: "If you are the last person to die on any given New Year’s Eve you will be employed for the next calendar year (sadly this will feel like eternity to you) as the driver of death’s carriage. You’ll reap the souls of men and point them wordlessly in the direction of…whatever it is that may or may not come next…". Riiiight. There's more on this theory on their Bandcamp page, still it's way more interesting that most dullard bands out there. 'The Boy Lives' is their debut album and is set to be the first of a trilogy from Ghost Carriage Phantoms.

There's singer-songwriter type stuff here, there's alt-pop type stuff here, and there's some more experimental pieces too. But none of it quite fits convention. This might seem like a lazy comparison, but if you listen to songs like 'Heart Of A Boy' or 'Up To My T-Shirt' you definitely get a whiff of Gruff Rhys, partly down to the accent, but mostly down to the slightly sideways approach to songwriting and presenting. You won't find any boring bard-like strumming, these are quirky pop songs, it just so happens that some of them are predominantly acoustic. When we do get a livelier burst it's a real treat, check out the upbeat yet still somehow laid-back highlight 'Yer Boots' and the fluttery 'Good Luck And Good Bowling' is a welcome curiosity. 'The Psychedelic Furs' is as close as we come to regular indie-pop and it's corker.

'The Boy Lives' almost falls foul of the monotony that can cause some albums to come undone. Not every track is essential, yet it's difficult to pick any songs you could describe as worthless. Maybe it's just the odd under-par moment or two that stops this being the overwhelming success it could be. We really don't need another band referencing The Smiths ('Woody Allen Movie'), even though the actual song is pretty good. 'Where The Dead Are' would pass you by completely were it not for some ghostly echos in the background. If you're after some sounds that are a break from the norm then get your listening gear around this, there are minor flaws, but they've got another two albums to fix those in.

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