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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone's dark night of the soul or is it a latte
"Who is this dude?",I asked myself. How come I have never heard of him? Hell! I can hear a lot of pain here. Oh, he's got some dry wit too.......

It must have been hard to deal with middle American homophobia and his own, wrong footed ,self accusatory doubt about his sexuality being the source of his ills, but, by grief, this man is an epiphany...
Published 16 months ago by Conan the Stamp Collector

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Stark and Confessional
Midway through this second solo album from the former Czars frontman I found myself running out of patience. His previous offering "Queen of Denmark" was one of my favourite albums of 2010 with its wonderful melodies, intriguing lyrics and charm. Sadly Pale Green Ghosts has none of that charm. It is a stark, hard confessional album.

It is a harsh album...
Published 1 month ago by Mr. Peter Steward


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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone's dark night of the soul or is it a latte, 14 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (Audio CD)
"Who is this dude?",I asked myself. How come I have never heard of him? Hell! I can hear a lot of pain here. Oh, he's got some dry wit too.......

It must have been hard to deal with middle American homophobia and his own, wrong footed ,self accusatory doubt about his sexuality being the source of his ills, but, by grief, this man is an epiphany.

Being diagnosed HIV pos is a terrible burden and my heart goes out to him for the difficulties He traverses, but JG sure as heck has created a superb means of getting his thoughts on it out there.

Individual track synopsis is not my style however I do want to state that this whole album is a treasure.

I hate small mindedness and having seen it first hand in that open air asylum between NY and LA. I am so glad there are musicians such as John beating around to expose it to the glare of reason. Judge a person on their merits, not some narrow minded, medieval, hill billy, white bread bigotry.

Gay, straight, up, down, left , right, vegetable, mineral or whatever. Who cares!! What matters is respecting people and their choices, great music, articulate prose and a dark fun, sense of the ridiculous.

Mr Grant you made me a believer. I couldn't care less about your orientation, just that you get your music out to as large an audience as possible.

Buy this and listen over either an effeminate European style coffee or strong malt scotch. Make your own mind up about the meanings within, but do not dismiss. This is important stuff, better than 99.9 % of the fabricated fluff being f&ted out by Simon Cowell and his ilk.

Pure talent.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes it pays to leave your comfort zone, 10 Dec 2013
By 
A. Sweeney "I don't care what you call me" (Brighton, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (Audio CD)
I fully admit that "Pale Green Ghosts" was a bit of a shock when I first heard it. Having truly loved "Queen Of Denmark", I then delved back into John's past work to discover all of The Czars' albums and in the space of just a couple of years went from not really knowing about John Grant to being a huge fan of his work. It's actually only because of my respect for him and the fact that one track, in particular, "Glacier" struck me as a work of genius did I play this album more than once because, I have to be honest, when I listened to it for the very first time, I really disliked it. I'm not a fan of modern electronica (although it you're talking about late seventies and eighties electronic music, I'm rather partial) and much of the album grated. However, I persevered, started to enjoy a few more tracks, went to see John in concert in Cambridge and then, as if by magic, the next time I listened to it, this intricate jigsaw of an album really came together and I was able to thoroughly enjoy the whole album from start to finish, particularly enjoying the textures and dynamics of this unusual piece of work. There are hints of the beautiful big balladry of "Queen Of Denmark", but those who wanted an exact replica of that magnificent album and aren't open to something quite different and adventurous from Grant are possibly going be disappointed by at least half of the tracks here. You really do have to widen your horizons a little or have a penchant for the sort of music he has embraced here to enjoy this release, but for those who are able to embrace the changes or who choose to listen to electronica anyway, this album has so much to offer and each repeat playback rewards the listener with a greater return.

Album opener and title-track "Pale Green Ghosts" (named after the olive trees adorning the roadside near Grant's home in Colorado) still isn't one I have warmed to fully and proves to be a low-key start to the album, although it is most definitely a bold electronic statement that this project is something completely different to his solo breakthrough. The excellent "Black Belt" has robotic rhythms and some bitchy, pithy lyrics that match the cold, detached feel of the song perfectly and the slightly bitter but undeniably likeable, self-promoting yet self-deprecating "GMF" is the first track, musically, on "Pale Green Ghosts" that could have comfortably fit on this album's predecessor. "Vietnam", the sound of a man battling against his (ex?) partner's unforgiving silence, has a musically hollow verse but the sumptuously melodic chorus, augmented by soothing strings, is like aural honey, sweet, soothing and completely contradictory to the pain expressed in the lyrics. The heartbreakingly beautiful "It Doesn't Matter To Him" sees John pouring his sadness and frustration out into some gentle, dignified musings that anybody who has been involved in a painful break-up will understand and empathise with. The instrumental epilogue of the track is dreamy and gorgeous; an exquisite end to an emotive piece. "Why Don't You Love Me Anymore" is less likeable, however, and is quite a bleak, angry synth-laden track that covers the same ground as the previous song, but with a little less restraint.

"You Don't Have To", with its slightly eighties sound simple synthesiser motif, is a wistful, tender reminiscence about a lost relationship with some amusingly biting, honest lyrics, whereas "Sensitive New Age Guy" is an up-tempo slice of electronica which, although has some interesting synth touches, is a bit less enjoyable than most of the other tracks. The sonically bleak "Ernest Borgnine" isn't really to my taste, either, but the superb "I Hate This Town" (with a chorus almost borrowed from ABBA's "Chiquitita", according to Grant) truly raises the bar once more. It is almost as if the very best was saved for last on "Pale Green Ghosts", as the last composition, "Glacier", an intelligent, fierce rebuttal of homophobic slander and hatred is truly magnificent, featuring a sublime vocal performance by John and a classically-tinged piano and strings climax that is both beautiful and passionate in equal measure. Even if a lot of the album isn't to your taste because of the electronic content, I would defy anyone who enjoyed "Queen Of Denmark" to listen to "Glacier" and not be blown away; it's a moment of sheer genius on a creative, eclectic album that has so many more excellent tracks than not. It's the track that forced me to re-listen to the album time and time again and to turn an, at first, uncomfortable listening experience into something that is now one of my favourite records of 2013. I imagine "Pale Green Ghosts" isn't for everybody and it very nearly wasn't for me, but a willingness to absorb the new direction and a little perseverance could mean that it slowly turns into one of your favourites of the year too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 15 Feb 2014
By 
Andrew J. Potts "AJ Rome" (Rome Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (Audio CD)
More of an electronic, Icelandic feel than the debut Midlake backed Queen of Denmark, this is nonetheless a wonderful album. The voice and songs are stunning. Ignore the haters, you don't have to be gay to appreciate this…..thought we were beyond all that by now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerously Beautiful Creation, 5 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (Audio CD)
Excellent follow up album to Queen of Denmark. Whether it surpasses or doesn't quite live up to it's predecessor is most likely down to your tolerance of electronica. For me, a lover of in your face throbbing synths, the opening title track grabbed me unexpectedly. I wasn't quite expecting such a pulsing track and I was hooked immediately. The use of synths is as perfectly employed as the orchestral moments. This is a remarkable album and deserves major recognition.

It's a paradox of an album, a space of bleak emptiness and yet lush and full simultaneously. A dangerously beautiful creation. It's very nice to see Sinead O'Connor's input on several tracks being totally complementary to the album and not a 'guest vocalist' appearance. A sign of true musicianship being able to subdue ego and provide what works best for the track and not want to stamp her mark on it. Its something I love Ms O'Connor for and something she's done quite often from early in her career. Wonder if Miley would be so generous? :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant stuff., 4 Oct 2013
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Saw him on Jools and ordered the CD. The lyrics are clever witty and apposite. As he says he has the privilege to sing to people be one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great stuff, 31 Aug 2013
By 
Richard J. Jardine "rjchardine" (the north) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (MP3 Download)
self assured commentary that advances and recedes taking you on an informed personal journey of cynical wistful charm with swearing. there is Scott Walker detachment with lashings of joy for indy folk
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent follow-up, 19 Aug 2013
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This is a very strong second album that consolidates JG's reputation. He is worthy of far more recognition Beautiful music!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, 26 May 2013
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Saw Mr Grant on Jools Holland and immediately got this the same night. Wonderful album. Sharpe, often witty lyrics, despite the obvious heartbreak running through the songs. The music is sometimes bleak electronics, sometimes orchestral. The voice is just perfect. I consider this a masterpiece.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Grant - Haunting songs of heartbreak and recrimination, 11 Mar 2013
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (Audio CD)
On the surface this record could be seen as chalk and cheese for John Grant fans. 2010s "Queen of Demark" was a lush melodic beast from the former Czars man with echoes of Jackson Browne, Rufus Wainwright, Billy Joel and even Neil Sedaka; this was assisted by the presence of country rockers Midlake as his backing band. Listen to "Pale Green Ghosts" and it is the presence of bubbling, thumping synths which immediately provide the dominant overriding theme. Please don't get the wrong impression though this is not "John Grant goes disco" and for those who hugely admire him as a songwriter with a penchant for witty, caustic, self deprecating and often brutally honest songs the general excellence of "PGG" will not disappoint.

The excellent opener and title track sets the theme with an almost Depeche Mode style techno grind and when accompanied by the best baritone in rock music it hits the bullseye. John Grant has had a troubled past and his recent stage declaration in London that he his HIV positive is a brave if sad admission. Yet this album has at its core the relationship break up with a former lover which he wrote about in "Queen of Denmark' which manifestly cuts like a open wound and any reconciliation is impossible . Listen to the haunting "Vietnam" which Grant has explained is a song about how his past lover annihilated him by showing how little his emotions mattered. His bitterness is raw and on full display not least in the powerful chorus which states "Your silence is a weapon/It's like a nuclear bomb/It's like the agent orange used in Vietnam/It's accompanied by an apathy/It's deafening through the years/You know it is complete and perfect/And you wield it without fear". A new anthem for Grant is also included the often-hilarious "GMF" (use your imagination!). Here Grant's ability to craft a lyric that leads to a loud snort is evident not least his observation that "Half of the time I think I'm in some movie/I play the underdog of course/I wonder who'll they'll get to play me, maybe/They could dig up Richard Burton's corpse". Other standouts include the gorgeous cosmic ballad "It doesn't matter to him", the sheer power of the Sinead O'Connor backed "You don't love me anymore" and the brilliant synth pop of "You don't have to" and "Ernest Borgnine" electronica meets dirty saxophone. True "Sensitive new age guy" is rather too much like Visage for its own good, but everything is forgiven for the superb seven minute plus closer "Glacier". It is one of the best things recorded this far in 2013, a huge piano driven lament, jammed packed with strings and a lyric that will break your heart. It must rank up there with the best things that he has penned as the rich ebb of Grant's voice plays over a dramatically slow piano and emotions run high

"Pale Green Ghosts" on repeated listens reveals huge inner depth showing Grant continued dalliance with his demons, relationship break-ups, his open homosexuality which was a key theme on "Queen of Denmark" and now his health remain on-going battles. Its mix of electronic pop combined with Grant's ability to produce some of the best baroque balladry this side of Rufus Wainwright ensure that this wondrous record is a haunting album of heartbreak and recrimination.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Stark and Confessional, 27 May 2014
By 
Mr. Peter Steward "petersteward" (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pale Green Ghosts (Audio CD)
Midway through this second solo album from the former Czars frontman I found myself running out of patience. His previous offering "Queen of Denmark" was one of my favourite albums of 2010 with its wonderful melodies, intriguing lyrics and charm. Sadly Pale Green Ghosts has none of that charm. It is a stark, hard confessional album.

It is a harsh album dominated by two aspects - electronica and Grant's obvious need for serious help as a person. Grant has been diagnosed as HIV positive. Openly gay he seems to feel that through his music we should be helping him. That means a series of harsh, spittingly acidic songs railing at life and his own situation. Self obsessed would be the best description of them. And so halfway through I was beginning to question the point of listening further to four letter tirades against society and his personal situation.

Queen of Denmark was in many ways a beautiful record full of memorable songs.Pale Green Ghosts had much to say but at times it is a hard pill to swallow.
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