When The Ghost Is Dancing played our Back To School Party last September, they described their sound as “GODZILLA POP.” Fast-forward to the release of their debut cd, The Darkest Spark (Sonic Unyon), and it’s cleary evident why that description is appropriate. They’ve expanded their lineup since their EP came out, leaving the number of band members at a staggering nine. Not only have they grown in size, but their sound is appropriately more rich and grandiose. Unfortunately, their epic pop does not always work on their debut, meaning that the small faults on their debut become monumentally huge. Like Godzilla destroying Tokyo, everything goes up in flames quickly.
The Darkest Spark is an incredibly frustrating listen because fails to extend the band’s promise over the course of a full album. TGID never really let their songs breathe, opting instead to have them change their course at every chance. It’s like being in the passenger seat of a car with someone who insists on switching lines every thirty seconds. The final result is a disorientating, exhausting experience where it’s hard to get involved with the songs. Most songs are never completely good or bad, but a mixed bag of quality and inferior parts (like driving a Rolls-Royce with worn out brakes and bald tires, to continue with the car analogies).
When songs like “We’ll Make It” and “Wall of Snow” perfectly combine the hyperactive songwriting with jubilant instrumentation, it’s obvious that TGID can become something special. But when the former is followed by the painfully bland “The Dark and the Bright,” the cracks start showing. By slowing things down, the intricate textures start fading away and highlight how grating the vocals and lyrics can be without a layer of sound behind them. The middling “Greatlakescape” needs a neat trimming to get rid of the fat and is missing the triumphant crescendo that makes “Wait Another Day” work.
Perhaps what is most annoying about The Darkest Spark is that it’s missing the magic of seeing TGID live. While they’ve carried over their epic sound, there is a certain amount of fun missing from the disc that one gets from seeing them in concert. Still, there is plenty of promise evident on The Darkest Spark, leaving hope that The Ghost Is Dancing will manage to work out their kinks and become a truly destructive force.
The Ghost Is Dancing play a CD release show at the Drake Hotel on Friday, June 29th.