The Ghost Song EP, like the vat of delicate, airy mousse (namelyHere & Elsewhere) from which its material overflowed, show LondonersMy Sad Captains to be looking to the sweeter material of the band’salt-pop influences for inspiration. It’s Yo La Tengo withoutthe trippy noise excursions, Granddady minus the friskiness,and Wilco devoid of their progressiveness.
But it is rather difficult to scoff at such delightfullybreezy, summery songplay during the waning days of August, even ifthose songs aren’t mind-blowingly original or unique, and don’t reallyadd to or amend any of the album’s achievements.
While warm, acoustic guitars provide the centrepiece for themajority of the tracks, smatterings of synths and effects add plentyof texture to the bonus set. The proper album standout Ghost Song,which is the peppiest example of bedroom pop this release offers, hasthe confident yet unimposing swagger of a cuddlier version of GoodNews-era Modest Mouse. Meanwhile, the bobbing keyboards andstrumming of Ebb And Flow make for a delightfully soothing bob downthe river.
At worst, the melodies prove a bit sterile. While certainlyverdant and definitely genial, the lack of interesting chordalprogressions prevent Made Your Mark from leaving much of animpression, and Told You So from saying anything too interesting. Theintro of the latter’s similarity to that of The Shins‘ fantastichit Phantom Limb further highlights the relative barrenness of theselection.
The price for the accessibility of their borrowed style is theinability to sound distinguished. Considering the material releasedto date, My Sad Captains have proven to be too busy being agreeable tobe considered approaching anything groundbreaking. That’s fine,though – some bands are meant to hone and perpetuate rather than tear down or trailblaze.
More frustrating a continuation from Here & Elsewhere, though, isthe underwhelming lead vocals. While his lyrics are pleasinglyintrospective and thoughtful, Ed Wallis lacks the chops, and perhapsthe confidence, to be triumphantly lifted by the lush melodies thatsupport him.
Nevertheless, in the end, the six tracks (or four, depending onwhether or not you’ll allow iTunes to be your vendor) are satisfyingand charming enough to merit attention.