Former Ghosts - New Love - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Former Ghosts - New Love

by Darren Loucaides Rating:7.5 Release Date:2010-11-07

Released last year, Former Ghosts' debut LP, Fleurs, was a collection of songs ostensibly themed around an imploding relationship. Written by Freddy Ruppert (formerly of This Song is a Mess but So Am I), with major contributions from cult indie heroes Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) and Nika Roza Danilova (Zola Jesus), it was mournful, agonised and beautiful. Sometimes, of course, the violent overflow of despair and loss could feel suffocating.

The name of this follow-up record would seem to suggest a turn of the page. But New Love picks up exactly where Fleurs left off, and I wonder if the title is meant to be bitterly ironic. There are moments of healing here, like the start of 'Taurean Nature', with its pulsing heartbeat percussion and warm, churchy keys. Yet as Ruppert's deep, rumbling, eyes-closed vocals begin to echo around you - "And then I listen in to your absence/ I haven't learned a thing" - you realise this is recovery drenched with tears; soon, high-pitched daggers slice through the calm, while menacing low notes threaten to plunge the faint dream of rebirth into a nightmare.

Ruppert handles most of the vocal duties, but Nika Roza Danilova chips in, too, most notably on 'Chin Up', when her mighty operatic caterwaul can be heard clawing through the dense synth-and-drums, which writhe around her voice and, in the song's best moments, seem to drag her to their roots. Whoever's singing, the vocals are all hazy lo-fi, and trembling with emotion. In fact, perhaps the greatest feat of this record is that, while the Blade Runner-esque musical tapestry soars and shimmers around you - majestically widescreen and epic - the songs are incredibly intimate, drawing you in rather than leaving you cold.

'And When You Kiss Me' is probably New Love's most euphoric number, an attempt to capture the dizzying affect a touch of the lips can have. It finds Ruppert drifting into a near-perfect impersonation of Ian Curtis histrionics, while the thumping pace and heedlessly repetitive synth hooks make it thoroughly dancefloor-worthy. In its self-afflicting exaltation it perhaps most poignantly sums up the album, and the struggle of overcoming a broken heart: letting go of all the blissful moments and memories that made you fall in love in the first place can be harder than letting go of the heartbreaker him/herself.

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