Ghost Outfit is the moniker of Manchester-based duo Jack Hardman and Mike Benson – not that you’d actually guess that they were a duo if you dived straight into I Want You To Destroy Me without knowing a thing about them. The noise they make would be more suited to a five-piece band.
It’s also a noise that really shouldn’t work as well as it does. The last few years have seen a plethora of bands channeling early ’90s alternative rock in their sound and the last thing the world needs is another one. However, the swirling textures that they conjure up are just that bit more captivating and intriguing than their many contemporaries.
Ghost Outfit’s approach throughout is lo-fi and gung-ho and, whilst simplistic, it’s thrilling. Lexicon is punctuated by a repetitive, groaning guitar sound and constantly switches between atmospheric and tribal, and the blistering volume of the guitars on Switch makes some parts of the drum kit, like the snare, almost inaudible at points. They’re also good at writing melodies with bite; What You’ve Got is a three-minute garage rock rampage, all distorted chords and lingering feedback. Too Soon sounds like a steam train roaring to life, and its vocal hooks are just as life-affirming as anything that Japandroids have put out.
What propels most of their songs is an intoxicating nervous energy. WASTE takes a while to get away after its opening rumbles but by the time it gets the chorus, with its repeated refrain of “wasting away”, it threatens to become unstoppable. The truth is that they could rock on for a very long time and it’s to their credit that they know when to stop (although the pummelling Killuhs, at nearly six minutes long, is the one justifiable exception).
There’s an inevitability that, when listening to the album for the first time, a lot of listeners might be reminded of My Bloody Valentine. Whilst it is a largely unfair comparison, its most memorable moment, due to its position in the running order, adopts a similar trick to the one that Kevin Shields and friends pulled at the very end of Loveless. Following 10 tracks of unrelenting distortion, Hardman and Benson’s final salvo combines towering guitars with a groovy tempo. Kids, enthusiastic yelps and all, feels like a triumph and will reward anyone who managed to last the distance.
There are certainly moments that feel like filler, but there’s much to like about Ghost Outfit. I Want You To Destroy Me is not life-changing or revelatory but it is a solid offering and occasionally provides the odd knockout blow of a song. Their raw and highly energised tracks, with some refinement, could turn them into a juggernaut.