Review Summary: Ghinzu has created a rare beast: often thoughtless, often experimental and pretentious, constantly engaging.
Sometimes it’s fun to see what kind of music professional musicians listen to. Often it’s a list of sounds obtusely referential to their own music, the old, dusty, obscure records that are dusted off and synthesized into the artist’s distinct and often more accessible sound. So it was interesting to hear Muse cite Belgium rock groups dEUS and Ghinzu, and even more interesting to hear just how much they owe these guys. Frequently on Blow Ghinzu has created the kind of sounds that obviously Muse owes a lot of credit for, the arpeggios, the major-minor shifts made famous by that more referentially-obtuse artist Philip Glass, the crooning vocals, the pseudo-classical overtones, and most importantly, the bombastic, violently energetic alt-rock approach; but, the comparison is unfavorable to the band and album in question. What Ghinzu has created on Blow is something much more interesting than the band they influence, something that simultaneously embraces an art-rock and party-rock aesthetic. It frequently takes nods from classical composers while singing about sex and cocaine, and uses this to create a kind of snide atmosphere similar to that of desert rock group Kyuss that developed a dichotomy between partying and musical experimentation.
They blend a variety of styles together in a package that feels incredible singular. This is partially achieved through the incredibly distinct vocal styling of frontman John Stargasm (yeah, that should really give you an idea of what you’re going to hear on this album), capable adapting a variety of styles and still remaining immediately recognizable. He fits perfectly with his band, sensitive when they are, and dramatic and overblown when they’re flailing away at their instruments.
But what’s remarkable about the album is just how much they allow it to breathe, just how much they indulge in what might be considered more questionable choices. This is both the album’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. On one hand, there are tracks like “Blow” which eases into itself in a manner akin to Pink Floyd, the “Dragster Wave” which winds through an unconventional structure with incredible ease and finesse, and the dual song “Jet Sex” /”Cockpit Inferno” that explores the same lyrics over two musical styles, the first a slow ballad, the second a rapid, scuzzy, synth driven explosion. On the other hand, you have the filler-track “’Til You Faint” based around a single chord and the singular lyric “Makin’ love to you” with the title of the track serving as its occasional companion and obvious implication, and “Horse” is perhaps the least fitting and purposeful tracks on the album.
While the lyrics do focus on a very rock n’ roll kind of lifestyle, they capture both the good and the bad, describing rather than condoning or condemning. The portrait painted in “Blow” is cynical, a little snide, and condescending, and raw emotion and desperation often seeps through the contrastingly clean and distorted production. The extent one can attach a philosophy to the album, though can be tricky, and perhaps one of the album’s flaws. “My Sweet Love” is oddly genuine, and contrasts wildly with the kind of misogyny characteristic of other tracks on the album. On its own it’s an excellent song, but it can be difficult to take seriously when the expectation is objectification.
Analytical bull*** aside, it’s a damn good album, a damn fun album. It’s one of those rare albums where you can get sucked in and only afterwards step back and pick apart the flaws. They’re musically intelligent, but the sole purpose of the album is to entertain, to inspire raw reaction, and for that it’s a worthy album.