Gavin Castleton
Home


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
May 31st, 2009 | 35 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There is no clear agenda, there is no safe retreat; there's just the lengthy process of filling in the you-shaped hole in me.

Concept albums rule. Human society's reliance on technology, the first human clone, American idiots, Gilles de Rais, the four elements, the Black Parade, Earth's tonal output as it orbits the sun, the disillusionment of modern youth, Madame Butterfly, the live performance of an alter-ego band, the end of the world, the start of the world. Is there anything left to cover?

Zombie movies.

But to label Gavin Castleton's Home in that simplistic manner would be wholly wrong, in the same way that his own description of the music here as 'popera' was both a little bit silly and entirely too basic to do it justice. Home has a lot more about it than basically anything released since the turn of the millennium, as it plays host to heartbreak, wit, twists, intelligence, nuance, beauty and loss with a confidence and brilliance so rare it makes you wonder why half the world hasn't heard of the man behind it. This record has been classified by critics, fans and the artist himself as a variety of sub-genres related to pop, but despite its hooky melodies and quirky soundbites there is nothing radio-friendly about any of it.

It's almost criminal to reveal the concept of the album to somebody who hasn't yet heard it, but it should suffice to say that the real story Castleton has to tell has little to do with the undead. Couple that with the presence of his ex-girlfriend Lauren Coleman, providing vocals on a large number of songs, and you're left with probably the most inventive and emotional idea presented in recent musical history. Climactic and presented as a stunning narrative, the amount of work and thought that Home displays is enviable to say the least.

All of this means nothing, of course, if the music is unimpressive, but it does far more than hold its own: it's fair to say that Castleton has an incredible appreciation of so many musical genres which clearly include trip-hop, jazz, classical and rock and everything in between. The simulated heartbeat on Oregon... combined with the album's most aggressive vocal performance (but by no means its only passionate one) gives rise to an intensity which is broken only by a chorus of ladybirds offering the protagonist an epiphany. Sound ridiculous? It is. It's ambitious and covers so much lyrical and musical ground that it simply should not work as a cohesive entity, but it peaks and dips, speeds up and slows down, changes direction and still knows when to keep going, like on penultimate track The Human Torch which is great mid-tempo soft-rock throughout despite the presence of a xylophone, near-tribal drums and electronics.

But maybe the best thing about Home is its replay value. There's angst, reflection, celebration, love, drama through its 14 tracks and the diversity of the material, joined with its consistent brilliance with the slight exception of an arguably weaker middle section, makes it a perfectly plausible idea to press play again as soon as Credits fades out. There are french horns, orchestras, acoustic guitars, grand pianos and two talented vocalists, and anything too epic or hyperbolic is vindicated by the record's concept. If there's one thing wrong with this album, it's that you absolutely have to immerse yourself in it for it to work. It requires your attention, but if you put the effort in it's a hell of an experience, and experience is definitely the right word.

Home exists as a tribute to pretty much everything good about music. I know how hyped that sounds, and it's by no means a flawless record, but every quality or trait it possesses as a whole is so endearing. So it's ridiculous and imperfect – that's hardly the point. It's clever, it's diverse, it's enjoyable, it's uplifting, and most importantly it represents something so much bigger than a compact disc or flesh-eating zombies, and for that it deserves all the praise in the world.


If you build your love on a black and white chessboard, then there's a very good chance that you'll always be at war




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4.1
excellent
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DoctorNurse (4.5)
Without question the best musical output of the year thus far....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

review was stupidly difficult to write but i'm putting off reading madame bovary so whatever, album needs more attention

Waior
May 31st 2009


11461 Comments


Mr. Strikey, you make good reviews.

gaslightanthem
May 31st 2009


5209 Comments


listening to this right now actually but ya this is a great album

Phantom
May 31st 2009


8930 Comments


Kane likes men's bums

gaslightanthem
May 31st 2009


5209 Comments


you're never on msn anymore

/wrists

Phantom
May 31st 2009


8930 Comments


awww mouse =[


Had exams. I'll be on more now thoughhhhhhhhhhhh

foreverendeared
May 31st 2009


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album is fucking great i must say

Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thaaank you mr. mcalpine, really appreciated :]

gaslightanthem
May 31st 2009


5209 Comments


I haven't really been on that much myself but still : (

Decided on a 3.5 for this

foreverendeared
May 31st 2009


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

very professional and well-written review. I remember previewing the first track on itunes a while back to see if i should get this, within 5 seconds i had my answer.

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 31st 2009


3742 Comments


the cover for this album is preventing me from getting this

Waior
May 31st 2009


11461 Comments


I remember previewing the first track on itunes a while back to see if i should get this, within 5 seconds i had my answer.


I'm going to go find an answer.

I thought this was a metal release (ugh), but then I remembered that this is a strikey review. I'll probably look into this.

gaslightanthem
May 31st 2009


5209 Comments


the cover for this album is preventing me from getting this


idk if you'd like it

hell idk if i like it really


Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hahaha so definitely not metal

the cover for this album is preventing me from getting this


why!

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 31st 2009


3742 Comments


because it looks like a creed cover or some shit

Phantom
May 31st 2009


8930 Comments


But Creed r00ls

Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's funny because if the album was actually a zombie movie story it would just be a really stupid album cover, but with the actual meaning it's actually really clever. castleton apparently deliberated over this album so much, the creative process, the gradual release of material, the presentation, and you can really see it

Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2009


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

post needs less actual

SeaAnemone
May 31st 2009


20969 Comments


Nice review... I'll definitely be checking this out in the near future, sounds like it's right up my alley.

Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

Douglas
June 1st 2009


9201 Comments


Great review as usual sir.

Might check this out in the near future



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