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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