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Review: United Ghosts – Self-Titled (Album)

We explore United Ghosts’ debut full-length album, find out whether the band’s shoegaze-infused charm won us over inside!

Band: United Ghosts
Release: United Ghosts (S/T)
Release Date: Out Now

Promising to show a different side to L.A, and citing influences as varied as shoegaze to kraut rock, Californian four-piece United Ghosts have released their full length debut via Tambourine Girl records.

‘Echo Lake’ emerges slowly, its pulsating intro growing in volume before developing into a placid affair that is nothing if not perfectly titled. Second track ‘Unhypnotized’ sees delay-laden guitar to build gently, before allowing bassist Sha Sabi to stretch her vocal chords, taking over the lead microphone for the first time on the album.

There are elements of ‘United Ghosts’ that echo David Bowie, third track ‘The Revolution Waiting’ especially tips its musical hat in the direction of his experimental 1990’s material, while others nod toward the likes of Kasabian‘s intoxicating rhythms. ‘Modern Crime’, however, plods slightly, a britpop referencing four minutes that interrupt the flow of the album’s first half.

The shared vocals between Axel Steuerwald and bassist Sabi offer varied levels of light and shade, the subtle changes mid-song are often the highlights, floating nicely above the guitar and rhythm section. It’s a strength that the band are aware of, too, ‘United Ghosts’ is littered with these passages.

The album’s pace picks up with the arrival of its sixth song, ‘Sparks From A Cold Star’, a more up-tempo stomping track that lifts from the quixotic slumber induced by the hypnotic first half of ‘United Ghosts’. This trajectory continues through ‘Coat Of Arms’, once again highlighting the effectiveness of the band’s harmonies.

The album continues in the same vein, through ‘Holes Into The Night’ and ‘Somewhere And A Day’, before tenth and final track ‘Aftershadows’ tumbles forth. Complete with an eastern vibe to the guitar work, and excellent melody from Sabi, it provides a satisfying end to ‘Uniting Ghosts’.

Allow yourself to be drawn into ‘United Ghosts’, and its depth and hypnotising style will warrant any number of repeat listens. The band will find that this release will open them up to an entirely new audience and their growth is only going to accelerate as more people take note.

One thing that drags the album down, however, is the lack of ‘kick into gear’ that at moments it so desperately craves. It is entirely possible that the band will forge an excellent and lengthy career without that push, but it would offer something more than it already has.

7/10

Reviewer: Dave Straw

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