Review Summary: Holy Ghost! produce a fun, upbeat, and retrospective dance album, looking to the past for their inspiration.
In a world where everyone is looking for the next big thing, many eyes are fixated on the future. However, as far as the synth-pop duo Holy Ghost! is concerned, looking to the past can be just as much fun. Channeling sounds of the ‘80s with their impassioned taste for electronic dance music, they shamelessly set out to create a retrospective record that also stands impressively tall amongst other electronic artists out there now. Their self-titled debut album grooves, sways and struts onto the dance floor, all while daring you not to do the same.
This LP is amiable in its accessibility, but to call it simple would be completely amiss. The duo piles layers upon layers of synthesizers and aural textures that cascade downward from a crest of buoyancy and shower the ears with scrupulous hooks and technical proficiency. Therefore, what they come up with is satisfying and extremely contagious. The disco vibes of the album are inextricable, but Holy Ghost! offer a more contemporary edge with heavier bass and scattered organic instruments. Nonetheless, nostalgia plays a large role on this album, and it’s not hard to believe that this record would have been massive if it were released 30 years ago.
But enough talk about the past, let’s talk about this album’s strengths. The individual songs are what elevate the energy of the album, and detecting each standout is fairly easy to do the first few times around. “Jam for Jerry” and “Hold My Breath” both contain lustrous beats and mellifluous vocals, and the song “Wait & See” sounds like a monster hit of the ‘80s that never was. While the level of detail on this record is rather striking, the duo always keeps their tone lighthearted, yielding a series of upbeat and extroverted tunes. Thus, the record is immediate and quite enjoyable for those seeking music to lighten the mood.
The funky synthesizer that leads off on “Static on the Wire” sounds carefree to the extent that it almost sounds irreverent, but it works well in the context of the album, which needs not to implore its listeners to let a little weight off their shoulders. “Hold On” and “It’s Not Over” overlap nicely toward the middle of the album, and while some ideas are regurgitated throughout the course of the record, most of the songs at least reach fulfillment in their own right. However, since this seemingly functions primarily as a singles album, the standouts unfortunately overshadow the lesser songs. It’s a double-edged sword really because many of these songs are fantastic, but some of the less notable songs feed too much off the more impressive ones.
For instance, the opening note of “Say My Name” is the same as the one on the preceding “Hold My Breath,” and while it’s not really a setback for the music itself, it somewhat hinders the track from establishing its own identity. These moments of familiarity can be unearthed across the album, but thankfully the detail on each song displays deep consideration. With a cheerful dance album like this, the recycling of sounds at least retains the duo’s character. Overall, Holy Ghost! settle comfortably into this elegant pastel to generate some very appealing pop songs.
For an album that wears its influences so proudly, Holy Ghost!
still sounds fresh. It makes a great effort to sharpen the sounds of dance music with elaborate production and to engage its audience with strong hooks. Though it may seem as though Holy Ghost! have entered the game a bit late for the sound they’re pursuing, it’s fun to make the small leap alongside them.
Hold My Breath
Jam for Jerry
Wait & See
Static on the Wire
It’s Not Over