Corbin
Ghost With Skin


4.5
superb

Review

by BlushfulHippocrene STAFF
November 8th, 2021 | 43 replies


Release Date: 10/31/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: cheesy 90s friendly ghost type beat

Rather than Mourn 2.0, what I expected from Ghost with Skin is what we ultimately get on penultimate track ‘Reaper’. A song much like 2019's ‘Wretch’, on which Corbin eschewed Mourn's paranoid, gothic, darkwave-inspired alt-R&B and the melancholic Keith Sweat crooning of the Spooky Black era in favour of some straight mumble shit. It’s Mourn taken to its logical extreme – its narrative trappings undone, revealing in their wake some shuddering creature mumbling vaguely comprehensible melodies over cloudy trap beats. It’s the kind of self-parody that Corbin excels at – that blurs the line between strongly felt emotions and a kind of cynicism towards those emotions.

But whereas ‘Wretch’ existed as a loosie – one amongst many disjointed singles that helped ease the wait and bridge the gap between 2017’s Mourn and 2021’s GWS – ‘Reaper’ exists in the context of an album that is, yes, very dark and drab and melancholic, but otherwise very unlike ‘Wretch’. And, indeed, unlike Mourn. Whereas Mourn sought to explore, via a thinly-veiled, half-baked narrative, Corbin’s experience of isolation, GWS does away with any (explicit) form of narrative and so feels, at least intuitively, far more personal. And whereas ‘Wretch’, in doing away with Mourn’s narrative, hyperbolised the emotionality at that album’s core to an extent that felt almost unreal, GWS is nothing if not hyperreal.

Of course, the extent to which Corbin is playing a character remains unclear. Despite the singer’s newfound earnestness, he fails to totally do away with his penchant for ironic distance which is, at this point, a part of his brand. (Throughout the album, he takes on a higher register that is borderline mocking in tone. On ‘ctrl alt delete’, he sings the line ‘Baby, know it’s hard to believe that I have feelings too’ in a DeLonge-ian whine that’s hard not to read as anything less than an aural eyeroll.) Likewise, he maintains across the album his penchant for pathos, analogising (and often treating as interchangeable) his substance abuse to that of a toxic relationship. On ‘Scab’, he paints a picture of this relationship as one of abuse and codependence, playing on the ambiguity of the word ‘drive’ when describing, in a throwaway line, his partner ‘driving’ him to the clinic. Similarly, on ‘ctrl alt delete’, he equates being away from this partner to substance withdrawal; and to drive the point home on ‘Path’ sings: ‘Girl, you’re my relief, you’re my Tylenol / Got me up to speed, you’re my Adderall’.

Notwithstanding this, Corbin’s depiction of these themes is his most direct yet. Sonically, despite covering a lot of ground, GWS lacks frills. Opener ‘Tell Me’ is the album’s biggest song. From soft synth chords and the sounds of insects at night it builds to an underwhelming climax that sees Corbin yelping over spaced-out drum hits. It’s followed by ‘Mask it to the Casket’ which, convince me otherwise, sounds like trappy Julien Baker. ‘Rambo’, a cheesy ballad, is emotionally overwhelming in the same way as last album’s ‘Something Safe’ (minus the Antwon shenanigans). And ‘Don’t Give Up’ is solo midnight karaoke for when you’re feeling just that tad bit suicidal.

From there, the album outdoes itself. Over LUM-like chimes, Corbin lets his voice break on the first verse of ‘Scab’, before delivering a big, reverb-soaked chorus and outro that are reminiscent of The Weeknd’s last album. ‘Path’, the album’s centrepiece, is heart-wrenching. Corbin adopts a vulnerable falsetto that is the sound of rock bottom, and over a basic guitar loop rife with YT live pedal improv cover potential sings, tragically: ‘I don’t mind getting wasted, you already see through me… / I’m just gonna play dead and hope you exhume me’. Late album highlight ‘ion care’ sounds like it’s from a totally different album by a totally different artist (6 dogs maybe). And, of course, there’s ‘Reaper’, which, as mentioned, is borderline parodic – Corbin’s pitched-down vocals giving voice, with absolute lack of clarity, to a suicidality underlying the rest of the album. The song says the quiet part loud, and you still don’t hear it.

What you do hear is Corbin at his best, his least laboured. It’s been four years since Mourn, and over a year since he announced an EP that’s yet to be released, and probably never will be. In many ways, GWS is a return to the Spooky Black era, embodying some of the aspects of the cloud trap genre into which he is so often lumped. In more ways, it is absolutely nothing like Black Silk or Leaving. Nor, despite their thematic similarities, is it much like Mourn. It feels much realer than that album – like Corbin’s finally grown comfortable in his artist’s skin (at least, as comfortable as any modern musician should be). Counterintuitively, Mourn’s use of narrative had the effect of further mythologising an artist who never wanted to be mythologised. Hopefully, GWS has the opposite effect – of painting a portrait of an artist that is not only human, but all too so.



s
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Comments:Add a Comment 
normaloctagon
November 8th 2021


8071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no comments?! wait maybe this just got posted or somethin



anyway i'll probably 3 this but am excited nonetheless and your 4.5 has me hopeful

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beegyoshiii
November 8th 2021


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Atmospheric, sad, catchy, and fun to sing along to. Not much more I could ask for

normaloctagon
November 8th 2021


8071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah i spoke too soon this is great. has a lot more staying power for me compared to Mourn, hippocrene nailed it here Whereas Mourn sought to explore, via a thinly-veiled, half-baked narrative, Corbin’s experience of isolation, GWS does away with any (explicit) form of narrative and so feels, at least intuitively, far more personal.

kevbogz
November 8th 2021


3902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

solid rev. couldn’t get into this as much as his past material (esp SB), just feels too samesy + his vocals are excruciating at times

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2021


3319 Comments


tha best in the review game easily

Digging: Tirzah - Colourgrade

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2021


46056 Comments


incredibly handsome and fulsome review

"It’s followed by ‘Mask it to the Casket’ which, convince me otherwise, sounds like trappy Julien Baker" good god I'm in now

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Jots
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2021


7416 Comments


def 👮‍♀️ing

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2021


46056 Comments


oh shit jots is policing the thread, hide the stuff fellas

Jots
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2021


7416 Comments


copping lol

Ryus
November 9th 2021


26787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh shit gotta check this

Digging: Bladee - Royal Mix

g40st
November 9th 2021


593 Comments


Is this Scooby Black

g40st
November 9th 2021


593 Comments


Or Spooky whatever

g40st
November 9th 2021


593 Comments


Nah that's Drake

hal1ax
November 9th 2021


15710 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

my man

ian b
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2021


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

holy shit @ this review + album, was not expecting this to be as consistently great as his stuff from the past, but it got me to remember my login info lmao

kevbogz
November 9th 2021


3902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

don't leave....

MCJACKDAHL
November 9th 2021


46 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is really good. Definitely feels like a modern take on his early stuff. Happy to have Spooky back, I had heard from some folks he went to school with in the twin cities that he quit music after Mourn

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Ryus
November 9th 2021


26787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i like his vocals here

good stuff

Asdfp277
November 9th 2021


23709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"klonopin caffeine alcohol and nicotine it’s you and me you and me you and me you and me"



this makes this album sound so unappealing lol

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2021


3878 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks friends. Glad the avg is still so high, RYM rating is brutal.

'this makes this album sound so unappealing lol'

Yeah, fair, it's a lyric by a totally different artist that popped in my head when I was submitting.



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