Plumbiferous Media

No Ghost - The Acorn

Aug 15th 2010
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No Ghost - The AcornThe Acorn
No Ghost
Score: 67

Cana­di­an indie band The Acorn released its newest full-length No Ghost to its Cana­di­an audi­ence ear­li­er this sum­mer. Releas­ing in the com­ing month state­side, No Ghost, the third album since the band’s for­ma­tion in 2003, reflects The Acorn’s years of time spent devel­op­ing a deep and inter­est­ing sound, but also its rel­a­tive inex­pe­ri­ence record­ing albums. While it con­tains a num­ber of very strong tracks, it lacks the cohe­sion the tracks real­ly deserve, and suf­fers as a result.

Front­man Rolf Klausen­er sings No Ghost with a clear, sim­ple tone that is part folk and part rock, with the expres­sion of the for­mer and the ener­gy of the lat­ter. As a gen­er­al rule, Klausen­er does a good job set­ting the tone of The Acorn’s music. How­ev­er, while that music is usu­al­ly inter­est­ing, Klausen­er him­self occa­sion­al­ly falls into repet­i­tive pat­terns which detract from the strength of his vocals. For­tu­nate­ly, this is fair­ly rare, and when Klausen­er is singing well (which is the case for the major­i­ty of No Ghost), the emo­tion and depth in his voice great­ly ben­e­fit the music.

The lyrics of No Ghost are well fit to its indie-folk sound - images of nature, love, and regret abound. The Acorn switch­es between plain, though well-word­ed, lyrics such as “Bob­cat Gold­wraith“ ‘s “You could leave / Leave me home / On the road / That we start­ed on / Where I found out / All I need­ed was you” and more abstract but cre­ative lines like “Slip­pery When Wet“ ‘s “And oh I curse the weight of me / The heavy purse drug at your heels / And the dead straight line that pulled you in / Got tan­gled in our spi­ral spin.” Whichev­er approach the band choos­es, lyrics are cer­tain­ly one of their strengths.

At its best, No Ghost has an incred­i­ble lev­el of devel­op­ment, per­va­sive through near­ly every ele­ment on the album: both gui­tar and drums, vocals, tone, and over­all track con­struc­tion. A per­fect exam­ple, “Cob­bled from Dust” begins with a unique, East­ern influ­enced gui­tar line, but vocals enter, and the track slow­ly builds to an expan­sive, flow­ing, entire­ly West­ern sound, all the while sound­ing absolute­ly excel­lent. The depth of sound con­tin­ues through a num­ber of tracks, includ­ing “Restora­tion” and “Crossed Wires,” the sec­ond of which main­tains what is eas­i­ly the most stun­ning tone of No Ghost’s tracks.

What does­n’t work near­ly as well, then, is the over­all con­struc­tion of No Ghost. The album is diverse, but to far too high a degree. Take, for exam­ple, “No Ghost,” an inter­est­ing, active, entire­ly exper­i­men­tal track. Its suc­ces­sor is “Slip­pery when Wet,” inter­est­ing in its own right, but a meek, heav­i­ly coun­try-influ­enced song com­plete­ly dis­con­nect­ed from not only the pre­vi­ous track but pret­ty much every track up to that point. There are a num­ber of albums that suc­cess­ful­ly give the lis­ten­er a tour of the vast reach­es of sounds that the band can accom­plish, but that does­n’t seem to be what No Ghost is try­ing to accom­plish, and the lev­el of vari­a­tion on the album is, as a result, more con­fus­ing than any­thing. It dis­tracts the lis­ten­er from the excel­lence of many of the tracks, leav­ing the album much worse off in the process.

No Ghost is gen­er­al­ly a good album, thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of sol­id vocals, well-writ­ten lyrics, and able instru­men­tals. It’s also cer­tain­ly a cre­ative album. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it’s not always as good as it could be. The best part of No Ghost is clus­tered at the front end of the album, with bits of inspi­ra­tion speck­led among the rest of the album - good in its own right, but not quite a match for the album’s height. But vary­ing qual­i­ty not with­stand­ing, No Ghost is sol­id, if not quite excellent.

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