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Pale Green Ghosts [VINYL] Double LP, Box set
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Second studio album from the former Czars frontman John Grant. Featuring the title track 'Pale Green Ghosts' and ten further brand new songs, the album entered the UK Albums Chart at #16. The title refers to the Russian olive trees that grow alongside the I-25 highway near Grant's home in Parker, Colorado.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very poor album from the man who would follow it with the best album of the decade so far: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Simon Turner
Very much the equal of John Grant's sublime debut King Of Denmark, this guy is the best writer to hit the scene in many years. A truly excellent albumPublished 4 months ago by Tom
Simply this guy is a genius what more can I say every track a standoutPublished 6 months ago by stephen shields
A few brilliant tracks but unfortunately quite a lot of self indulgent depressing and repetitive ones.Published 6 months ago by Mr RM Powell
It wasn't what I expected but it was pretty good for its genre.Published 7 months ago by alanathens