Ghost Stories the band seems to have some fascination with the macabre, at least in their song titles, which seems fitting given the band’s name.

The band seems to have invented the word Quixoticism as the title for their album. “Quixotic” means tending to take a romanticized view of life, or being motivated by an idealism that overlooks practical considerations (Encarta Dictionary.) An “ism” is simply a movement, doctrine, or system of beliefs. I guess we can assume that the band follows a doctrine of romanticizing or idealizing the world in which they find themselves. Or maybe it sounded neat. Either way, it’s a damn cool album title and a very interesting counter point to the band’s name.

The album opens with “Catacombs'” shuffle beat, pretty melody, and a haunting guitar tone that hints of a theremin. The song gives an instant glimpse into the band’s mastery of dynamics that carries on through the entirety of the album.

Ghost Stories really know how to craft a tune and aren’t afraid to dip their toes into varying genres, whether a pretty lullaby like “Secret Life of the Union Part II” or the infectiously poppy “The Upper Ten/Lower Five” or “The Motions” with its “ba-da-da-bop-bop” vocals on the outtro, or the polka (or is it a Russian folk dance?) driven “The Black Hand”. And back to that theremin…on a couple of tracks I swear I do hear it (“The Black Hand” and “The Nettles In Your Mouth”) which seems to me to be the ultimate instrument given the band’s name.

“Even a Vampire Wouldn’t Drink My Blood” (how cool is that lyric?) is by far my favorite track on the album and it seems odd that the band would stick it at the end. The track is a perfect blend of melody, quirky lyrics, noise, guitar hooks, percussion…I’m serious, it’s bloody perfect, a perfect song. I challenge anyone to listen to this and not become an instant fan.

Out of all the strengths showcased on this album I keep coming back to the rhythm section. In particular the percussion that provide just the right foundation for everything else. It’s kind of a Ringo thing. Ringo is one of the most underrated drummers in my opinion: he knew when to sit back and let the song flow, he knew when to play hard, when to lie low, and, best yet, when to not play at all. Ghost Stories is more than that though, their throw-back harmonies hint of the Beach Boys, and the melodies, lyrics, and noise come together to form a holistic and pleasing sound that soothes the soul. Perhaps it’s that romanticized view of the world seeping into the recording studio and their music.

Long story short, this is a phenomenal album and one I highly recommend.

David Morley

Quixoticism will be released January 23, 2007. Listen to it in its entirety before then here.

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