You know when people have bad news and good news in equal measures to tell you, and they ask you which you want to hear first? Well, in the honourable tradition of rehashing cliches, that’s precisely what’s going to happen here. So if you’re a masochistic sort who likes to leave with a faintly bitter taste in your mouth, read paragraph 2 followed by paragraph 1. But if you’re a ‘spoonful of sugar with your medicine’, happy-go-lucky type then read it in the normal order and you should come away feeling none the worse. In any case, enjoy…
- My goodness there’s some crap on Dust Ghosts. The pair of tracks that open the album bode ill in much the same way that watching 90s remakes of classic films does: you’re left with the feeling that you’ve experienced this sort of thing before, only it was much better the first time round. The uninspired rock-lite of “43 Pence Worth Of Luck” and “Hello Poisons” is of a type with Jimmy Eat World, and equally insipid. “We Rattle”, with its echoes of more illustrious americana, passes by mercifully quickly. These attempts at rock that pepper “Dust Ghosts” are, if we’re being honest, a bit rubbish. It’s a derivative formula that sounded dated the first time round, and The Wireless Stores do themselves no favours with cringingly awful titles like “43 Pence Worth Of Luck” either. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh, but it seems to me that it just isn’t good enough to write music like this anymore. There are far too many quirky, angular, intelligent and interesting bands around for music this prosaic to cut the mustard. Part of the problem is that even if you go in for this sort of thing there are bands who do it much better. If you need a fix of inoffensive, predictable indie there’s a veritable panoply of better bands out there to choose from.
Dust Ghosts is a parson’s egg of an album.
- Damn there are some fine songs on Dust Ghosts. Buried beneath the dross, there are some honest gems. Vocalist Paul Yeadon’s got a voice that just works when it comes to reflective tunes about the fabric of life and there’s an authenticity to the slower numbers that’s lacking in the pseud-rock of Dust Ghosts earlier songs. The lilting, REM-esque “Chewing Gum Stars”, with its dense layers of keyboards and harmonies, is the best moment on the album, switching from a looping country verse to a sweepingly passionate chorus. In fact, The Wireless Stores are at their best when they forgo their indie posturing and let their influences lead them astray. The mournful cello and tale of paranoia in “Scissors For Fingers” is another example of what this lot are capable of when they’re not tied down to their desperately tired idea of what rock/indie ought to be. “Not Going, Gone” is a beatiful ode to loneliness, with its interplay between a needlingly distorted lead and soothing slide guitar. The album’s title track is reminiscent of the better work of Death Cab For Cutie, and as with the other country-ish songs, quenches you in areas its rock counterparts can’t even conceive of.
Dust Ghosts is a parson’s egg of an album — it’s good in parts. It isn’t bad — far from it, in fact — but it feels like half an album of unconvincing, mediocre indie-rock and half an album of promising, lushly passionate country. And the moments of genuinely good work almost do enough to outweigh the bad. But, in the end, half an album’s still only half an album. You can’t help the feeling that Dust Ghosts is the sound of a band struggling — and sort of failing — to define itself. Ultimately it’s ok, nothing more. But maybe, just maybe, next time round they’ll figure it out. I hope so, because great things might yet await them.