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Pale Green Ghosts
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Pale Green Ghosts
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Bella Union records are thrilled to announce the return of JOHN GRANT, who's second solo album Pale Green Ghosts will be released 15th March 2013. After a breakthrough year that saw his exceptional solo debut "Queen Of Denmark" win MOJO's album of 2010 and countless other accolades John Grant hasn't rested on his laurels but created a follow-up that underlines his uncanny and charismatic talents, Recorded in Iceland and featuring Sinead O'Connor on guest vocals, the brilliant "Pale Green Ghosts" adds sublime notes of dark, gleaming electronica to the anticipated velveteen ballads, calling on all of Grant's influences and tastes, presenting an artist at the peak of his powers.
When The Czars’ frontman John Grant went solo in 2010, the resulting album, Queen of Denmark, was extraordinary.
Laying bare his life, his struggles and heartbreak with openness and wit, the album featured Bella Union labelmates Midlake as Grant’s backing band, contributing their pastoral 1970s sound. It was a natural pairing.
The initial surprise on this follow-up is discovering that Grant’s songs work as well – if not even better – when paired with a synth-pop backing rooted more in the 1980s than the preceding decade.
The eerie, edgy title track opens the album with fierce little darts of synth paired with echoed vocals, conveying the sense of mystery and urgency of the singer’s adolescent journeys down his hometown’s “black highway”, seeking escape.
Tracks like Blackbelt and Sensitive New Age Guy positively bounce, the latter recalling a swathe of 80s bands like The Human League and Depeche Mode.
Rather than a distancing device, these synthesised sounds actually become a conduit for the stories contained in his songs. And these stories are, again, excoriating in their depth of feeling.
That adjective applies most directly to Vietnam, in which the singer compares the silent treatment meted out by his ex (the same ex who haunts most of Grant’s most intense work) to both a “nuclear bomb” and the skin-stripping “Agent Orange”.
This clear-eyed honesty and anger – in the quite brilliant GMF he describes himself as “quite angry, which I barely can conceal” – is not softened by, but paired with, a humour that can be waspish, or just plain laugh-out-loud funny.
Blackbelt is an example of the former, Grant drawling, “Yeah, you got your bored look all worked out”. He’s also a master of a judicious swear, too, as evidenced by GMF – yes, the F stands for that F-word – and I Hate This Town.
Glacier is intensely tender and moving, the closer a ballad directed at youngsters struggling with their sexuality – or, rather, with others’ reactions to it. It is likely to provide succour and comfort from one who has, demonstrably, been through that emotional mill himself.
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I had never heard of John Grant before but loved what I heard Instantly and by the time Christmas dinner was served I had ordered the deluxe editon and used the auto rip feature to download digitally.
As a fan of electronic music the first thing that attracted me to this album was some great synth sounds, but it wasn't long before I was equally impressed by the songwriting, great lyrics and voice.
This album was a real surprise find for me and I have been since enjoyed discovering all John Grant's previous work both as a slolo artist and with the Czars