Just how would you revive the holy ghost? How long was that piece of string? These and many other great theological questions are begging for an answer as you listen to the debut album from five ‘young dandies’ from Seattle drumming up talk of ‘glam horror’ and ‘cinematic mystery’. Any form of diversion would be time better spent than wallowing in the stench of musical corpses reanimated by this lacklustre spark. Now remind me, why am I here? And should I bring sandwiches?
The signs do not look good for the Holy Ghost Revival, billing themselves as a slimline brand of ‘punk rock-operatics’: interpret; flouncy clever-dicks who think chucking in a few ancient words to lame showtunes makes you a sex god. Like The Darkness did for ‘rawk’ a few years back, so Holy Ghost Revival try to tap into a Rocky Horror-meets-Meatloaf world full of histrionic vocals (s)talking of graveyard trysts and frankly piss-poor fantasy-style lyrics.
They sound not unlike arch-goths Bauhaus or a David Bowie impersonator having a laugh at the whole emo-schtick of Fall Out Boy or film and stage cock(less) rockers Hedwig and The Angry Inch. No bad thing, were it done with an ounce of tongue in cheek. Irony however, has never been high on America’s greatest exports…
There are flourishes aplenty on every track here, with classical piano welded onto cheese-laden guitar solos and interminable dramatic chops and changes in style while the whining sneer of vocalist Connor St. Kiley tops the whole thing off like a nasty, sour cherry. Subtlety is obviously not on the menu.
Some Holy War is full of idle talk of ‘casting cheap gypsy spells from my bed’, ‘old English beer’ and ‘cavaliers’ set to a driving garage band beat and classical asides. It’s quite frankly a pompous, self-obsessed mess. From the MOR guitars soloing over the lighters-aloft Autumn’s Children and spraying nasty tasting arpeggios over frog-hopping little tunes owing more to vaudeville / pantomime than the glam-rock or punk roots they claim to spring from. There will always be a market for dramatic ‘operatic-rock’ of stalking, time-signature-changing dross for teens discovering their voice and thinking that a theatrical flourish and some mascara will express their inner turmoil and mark them out as ‘individuals.
Even when the Ghosts switch gear on the folky roll of Little Ones things do not improve as there is murder in the undergrowth telling of tearing ‘her little girl limbs apart’. Death is never far away even on the distinctly un-festively Christmas Everyday. Those wishing for a Slade-fest of good chugging seasonal times should step away now. It is a lumpen, florid, misshapen flailing orphan, of a love lived in fantasy set to a militaristic drum roll and piano figure.
Ah, the piano. Rediscovered by sensitive rock types Keane and Coldplay is given a thrashing over the course of the album from background, to ear-grating, to the full-blown ivory-thumping of music-hall closer Phantasm.
Holy Ghost Revival ‘roll out the barrel’ of cliché-ridden horror-rock with a polite, uninspiring collection of bad smells, that remind you how great Kurt Weill was and The Tiger Lilies are, and for that alone should be left to fester in the crypt of bad music. Let sleeping ghosts lie.