The recent wave of Scandinavian indie-pop invading these shores continues with Ghost Is Not Real the second LP from Finnish band Husky Rescue. Husky Rescue let it be known that they like to deal in a netherworld where nature harbours secrets and dreams are a potent form of transportation and knowledge. Like fellow Scandinavians The Knife, a lot of inspirational elements come from film and they aim to imbue their tracks with a cinematic tapestry that places cinematic virtues such as mood and mise-en-scene in a musical context.
The song titles are starry-eyed and bucolic, “Diamonds In The Sky”, “Nightless Night”, “Silent Woods”…
With this in mind Husky Rescue create a specific atmosphere on Ghost Is Not Real. The song titles are starry-eyed and bucolic, “Diamonds In The Sky”, “Nightless Night”, “Silent Woods” etc, and point towards, in the main, transient moments in time and ghostly epiphanies all shelved in a winterly context. This closely woven texture of themes and images is at times at odds with the variety of musical styles. On display are moments of post rock, garage pop psychedelia, folk and icy electro-pop each of which bring their own distinctive ambience. Having said that, Ghost Is Not Real mostly relies upon a bed rock of indie pop and folk that is embellished with other musical styles rather than being re-formed by them. On first hearing, the album has a debut release feel to it, where changes in style feel more like conscious stabs on the bands’ part to show that they have a variety to their game. The brooding electro-pop of “Shadow Run” is a good example, where its sparse beat and icy-spoken word is Ladytron down to a tee but brings the neon lust and smoke-filled shadows of the city rather than the expected heathen chemistry of the dark woods. Unsure at times whether to go lo-fi or for a fuller sound Ghost Is Not Real’s production also adds to the tentative feel of the album. Tracks like “Nightless Night” and “Blue Berry Tree Part III” would be more captivating if they pushed the respective breaks into psychedelia and post-rock a lot harder — heavier drums, louder guitars, greater shifts in dynamics — so that the feeling of being lost actually became a reality.
At the forefront of many of the tracks’ imagery are Reeta-Leanna Korhala’s vocals. Korhala’s vocals are suitably ethereal offering an otherworldly divines that one could easily equate with myths and folklore. The soft, icy, indifferent nature of her vocals successfully distance her but can equally, not helped by the vague imagery of the lyrics, result in things sounding a little bland. That impression is heralded on final track “Caravan” where Korhala repeatedly murmours “should I leave this caravan?” Nevertheless, apart from certain moments like on “Caravan”, Korhala remains consistently lucid and pretty providing an appeasing central focus and an important suture between the music and imagery.
On “Hurricane” the band’s musical elements come to the fore with swirling synths and the icy twinkle of acoustic guitar picking.
The balance between the music and imagery on Ghost Is Not Real — there is very little narrative at work here — is where the fate of the album is ultimately decided. The vague and unassuming imagery means that a greater pressure becomes placed on the music to mystify. The album’s central tryptych “Blueberry Tree Parts I/II/III” is weakly blurred but on “Hurricane” the band’s musical elements come to the fore with swirling synths and the icy twinkle of acoustic guitar picking. The success of “Hurricane” seems to stem from a concerted effort upon song structure rather than the need to create a certain mood or landscape. You sense that these musical qualities are present at the heart of a lot of Ghost Is Not Real but get caught up or lost in the mix as the greater emphasis is placed on the cinematic quality and patchwork of themes that eventually superimpose themselves. Husky Rescue at present do not possess the song writing capabilities to successfully engender such a framework but what they do have as shown by their debut release Country Falls and moments on Ghost Is Not Here, is a good ear for an indie pop song. So forget David Lynch and bring back Abba.