Review Summary: A poorly planned vacation set to folk music. Doesn't sound like fun? Well you're in for a surprise.
When folk-punk duo Ghost Mice recorded "Europe" in 2006, they shifted direction lyrically from messages about staying positive and being anarchist to the extended road trip they took through Europe. The standard cheery folk tunes remained intact however, which will keep fans of the band satisfied. It's almost surprising that Ghost Mice were able to remain as cheerful as they sound on this album, as the journey was plagued with bad weather, a lack of funds, and all around poor planning.
Each of the 11 songs are named after the countries that were visited. And each of them relate the experience that band members Chris Clavin and Hannah Jones had in each of these countries. Generally these experiences involve being broke, wet and miserable, which leads the listener to wonder just how much they planned before going on this trip. However even in the darkest circumstances, Ghost Mice's trademark positivity continually shines through. This eternal optimism, though admirable, begins to grate after a while.
While it may seem that any folk album is bound to get repetitive, Ghost Mice somehow manages to keep the songs fresh and original, at least for most of the album. This is helped by guest instrumentalist Pascal Benvenuti who keeps the violin/acoustic guitar duo from becoming stale with mandolin, ukulele and concertina. However, no amount of background instruments can keep folk songs from sounding repetitive and the songs begin to sound suspiciously similar towards the end of the record.
All in all, Europe is an enjoyable listen that is Ghost Mice's most personal album yet. However it is difficult to make the much maligned genre of folk-punk sound interesting for a full album and Europe is no exception. However, repetitiveness and the fact that this album wouldn't even exist if the band members had planned a little better don't keep it from being a worthwhile listen.