Review Summary: Just another Eskimo Joe album.
My first encounter with Eskimo Joe was 'Black Fingernails, Red Wine' which at the time had been played to death by most Australian radio stations and ultimately ruined any chance of me listening to an Eskimo Joe album. This all changed one morning while I was watching guest programmers on a video collection show called Rage, who were playing through some of their favourite videos, one of which was 'Liar' from Eskimo Joe's debut 'Girl'. The experience from this song would differ a lot from my first encounter and convince me to seek out more material. A couple years and 3 albums later I ended up on 'Ghosts of the Past'.
Going into an album by Eskimo Joe I didn't expect a lot, maybe a few tracks I'd take with me but mostly I'd just forget until the next time I listened. There were a few song which would prove to be hard to forget such as the upbeat 'Love is a Drug' which takes the overused metaphor of comparing love to the addiction of a drug, to the slower traditional Eskimo Joe tracks such as 'Speeding Car' which features a simple piano melody playing over a basic chord progression throughout the song, a method used in earlier songs like 'Liar' which I mentioned before. Apart from a few tracks, most songs would sound better if listened to in sequence with the rest of the album.
As a musician myself one of the aspects that attracted me while listening to most of Eskimo Joe's material is the simple yet effective modern rock sound they create. Most songs consist of a basic song structure riding on a simple chord progression, a predicable drum beat and are presented in a short time span perfect for radio play. This isn't the best formula for every song you're going to write but in Eskimo Joe's case, it would be in their best interests to keep it simple.
The production on 'Ghost of the Past' is perfect for the songs included. Everything has a clean/smoothe sound to it, the guitar tones compliment the canvas that the bass and drums create perfectly. The vocals sit upon the music in a very focused position with the overdubbed backing vocals blending into the music provided. I can't help but think that if they had of took a different direction production wise, it might have given this album the edge it needed to stand out from the rest of their discography, but no harm done.
What Eskimo Joe delivers here is a solid album which sounds familiar, shows tight musicianship and stays true to band's mainstream rock sound. What they fail to deliver is anything new which would separate 'Ghosts of the Past' to the rest of their releases, this is letdown but don't think anyone listening would expect anything else from Eskimo Joe.