Review Summary: Gravenhurst don't care about the emptiness of the prize, and the cost is small
Gravenhurst is one of those bands which have answered the call of a subtle response to the creeping mundanity of post-modernity. Nick Talbot's reflexes since then have been profoundly fastidious on both musical and lyrical level. In the same vein, the multi-instrumentalist and producer from Bristol, having released 4 studio albums, and made more than a dozen of appearances in soundtracks and compilations, launches his fifth LP, named The Ghost in Daylight
Though drenched in an overly mystifying eeriness, Gravenhurst's The Ghost in Daylight
seems to present its themes with a strangely suspicious clarity. Talbot's favorite acoustic guitars, droning devices and spooky mellotrons that have appeared in previous albums are also the main compounds in his latest work. But this time the dreariness is cloaked better, and the result is a sense of an ominous affirmation which inevitably haunts the sparse mellow or melodic moments, a thing evident early enough from" Circadian's" intricate fingerpicking. The album is widely structured around such gentle acoustic and slow-paced melodies which almost never climax or variate. "Fitzrovia" and "In Miniature" sprawl with moodiness upon synthy waves, and similarly, most of the songs follow this formula. "The Ghost of Saint Paul" features mellotron whistles and some tender piano phrases, whereas "Three Fires" sounds more like a lullaby that' ll probably cause a rather nervous sleep.
However, the overly quiet and benign nature of the compositions fails to maintain its seeming poignancy and ultimately flirts with drowsiness. The songs quickly turn out to be a bit monotonous and repetitive, with the exception of "The Prize", a song infused with a peaking melancholy and restraint that bursts into a frazzling climax with strings and seething pedal effects. "Islands" is a pleasant surprise too, with its metallic ambiance delivering an Eno-like feeling that is easily distinguishable among the many interlude-pieces of the record. Still, where the music is plainly built, there seems to be more space for Talbot's lyrics, which feel comfortable enough in their musical surroundings. Lines such as, "If you let them burn books, you'll let them burn bodies / the man with the match could be anybody", are potent enough to support "The Foundry's" plainly atmospheric music, while the delicate closer "Three Fires", proves to be a quirky metaphor about arson.
In the end, The Ghost in Daylight
is more like an intimate cry of isolation which tends to level itself for the sake of being more authentic in its loss of purpose. That's why it's like a decadent ghost, cursed to appear in daylights' revealing nature, and thus lose its power. The Ghost in Daylight
wants to haunt and to reveal, but succeeds in neither. Trampling down any brooding emotional exaggeration, it falls somewhere between a happy pessimism and a gentle detachment. It's not Gravenhurst's best, but it's still a reminder that most of the times, less is more.