Review Summary: Redundant, in more ways than one
Listening to just "Lost But Not Forgotten: A Suite", the intro track to this second release from the California goth-rockers, I can't help but feel as if I've heard this all before. Not just with their abysmal 2011 release, Always and Forever
, but even further back to I Am Ghost's last release before splitting up. You know, the one that wasn't good, when all but two members had left. Yeah, that one.
"Lost But Not Forgotten: A Suite" starts with a toy piano intro, one that seems as if its included because it sounds somewhat like Nightmare Before Christmas, which leads into a the strings and piano. It's reminiscent of "Crossing the River Styx", from I Am Ghost's debut album, though there aren't enough parts to keep this intro as interesting. Gone are the multiple vocal tracks and the atmospheric string section. It's very much a low budget intro in contrast, consisting only of a cheap sounding virtual piano and a female vocalist, who is bizarrely absent from the songs that follow. Between the noticeable lack of production, and with this one clocking in at 2:30, it's an unnecessary addition to a five track release (four excluding the intro, and three if you exclude the cover) that feels like filler.
Up next is the first single of the release, "Poison Girl", which highlights some glaring and consistent problems with Memories
. For one, everything sounds incredibly cheap and thin. And though "Ghost of Winter" seems to embrace the lack of production with a very glitzy and 80's sound, and the title track is too stripped down to have this be a detriment to its sound, the rest of the release is left sounding incredibly cheap. Normally this isn't something that bothers me, but it's jarring how poor this sounds compared to prior releases. Guitars sound incredibly thin and muddled, drums are drowned in the mix, and everything has this faintness to it, as if they were standing a bit too far from their microphones when recording.
The second problem highlighted here are the lyrics. Juliano has never been known as the best lyricist, but it's as if he wasn't even trying here. At best, they're cheesy, and at worst, they're horribly cliche. It's as if he had a checklist of faux-goth imagery with quota's that had to be met. For example, lead single "Poison Girl" features gems such as: "Such is love and eloquently cruel/spelled backwards is the mark that we hide" and "Rest in peace to poison girl and poison days/So let her go and bury all her things in caskets", while the title track has such brilliance as "Did it hurt when we took our last breathe? All we have are memories". Love and death are the topics of choice, with an excessive amount of vivid and useless imagery to remind you that this is supposed to be a "dark" album.
All of that being said, this release isn't entirely bad. "Ghost of Winter" is a surprisingly upbeat track, ditching that "dark" sound they tried so hard for with the first two tracks, and instead focusing on a lighter, poppier sound. It has more of an 80's pop-rock sound, with Juliano crooning "Caroline/ hold on/pretend/that this night will never end" and synths that give the song a glitzy feel, but it's this variation that's welcomed, and surprisingly refreshing. Even the closing title track is a surprising change of pace, being stripped down, consisting of only Juliano and an acoustic guitar.
All in all, this is a confusing release. For what it seems like they were aiming for, a dark rock album, it's a rather abysmal attempt. The production is too messy, writing too straightforward, and lyrics too cliche for the music to come across as anything but a joke. But the variations from this path led to two refreshing, and rather enjoyable tracks.
Ghost of Winter