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Hoy Ghost!
Holy Ghost! Holy Ghost!
Released 4 April 2011
Producer Holy Ghost!
Label DFA, Co-op
Length 49:15
Genre Electropop, disco
Website www.holyghostnyc.com
71

With April’s farewell shows seemingly consigning LCD Soundsystem to the history books, James Murphy’s focus can now turn to bringing through the next wave of DFA superstars. Shit Robot and Planningtorock are just two of the more interesting acts to have made their label debuts recently, showing that there is probably no need to file for bankruptcy just yet. Sandwiched between these two releases is another debut from eighties throwbacks Holy Ghost!, a New York based duo with a penchant for the retro. Their self titled debut is an authentic review of the eighties and an album they hope will catapult them into the DFA hierarchy alongside the likes of Hot Chip and Hercules And Love Affair.

I’d love to tell you that the first album I got into was respectable or cool, like something by The Velvet Underground or Joy Division, but the truth is the first album I played to death was Hits 7; a compilation copycat of the Now That’s What I Call Music series. It contained such luminaries as Wax, Shakin’ Stevens, Five Star and Rick Astley (sans the roll) and summed up all that was good and bad about the eighties. Likewise Holy Ghost! manages to encapsulate both sides with some cracking tunes standing shoulder to shoulder alongside some slightly cringeworthy tracks.

The album opens with 'Do It Again', an instantly infectious tune with synths so retro that I was suddenly reminded of a plethora of Australian kids TV shows. Not that I think Holy Ghost!’s aim was to remind me of Pugwall’s Summer or Round The Twist but it proved at least that they had achieved authenticity with their song writing. 'Wait And See' is an equally upbeat track containing hints of Joe Jackson’s 'Steppin’ Out' with its constant energy and instrumentation. The falsetto parts are endearing, the kind of unpolished non-autotuned singing that feels human.

'Some Children' is a particular album highlight with a guest appearance by music legend Michael McDonald, who lends his instantly recognizable voice to the track. Rather than raid his considerable back catalogue for a hook to reuse, Holy Ghost! approached McDonald and asked if he would be interested in recording something original. He agreed and the result is pure funk with a delicious a capella outro that sounds like vintage McDonald.

A brief and successful flirtation with seventies disco is also included; 'Static On The Wire' mixes an extremely funky Clavinet line worthy of Stevie Wonder with slap bass that gives way for a Thin Lizzy style dual guitar solo half way through. 'Say My Name' sounds like a mix between Pink Floyd’s 'Welcome To The Machine' and Michael Jackson’s 'Off The Wall'; starting off broody but kicking in with a much funkier chorus.

Holy Ghost! fails when it veers more towards the poppy boy band side of things. 'Jam For Jerry' and 'Slow Motion' both sound like the formulaic output of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, recalling horrific visions of Bros and Big Fun gyrating in their matching luminous shirts and denim jackets, a terrifying thought. Thankfully these dalliances are isolated and only slightly disrupt the album.

Holy Ghost! is a trip down memory lane in a modified DeLorean, an album that remains slavishly entrenched in all aspects of the eighties. It’s not going to make converts out of those who believe the eighties is nothing more than a blot on the history of music and there is also the worry that one album is the most they can squeeze from this but taken at face value it’s a well crafted album that will appeal to the nostalgic amongst us.

- Brian Kinsella