As a duo revered for trendier-than-now remixes and their former life as Murphy and Goldsworthy produced hip-hop act Automato, Holy Ghost! highlight the ups and downs of two-piece electro-pop with a surprisingly European sounding debut.
Opening with 'Do It Again', Holy Ghost! offer a laid back, funk heavy start to this self-titled album and an interestingly wordy introduction. There’s a straight enough chorus hook, but as a first impression this doesn’t set the heart a flutter. If anything there’s a sense of awkwardness to the song, the kind of wrong side of the Eighties sound that Empire of the Sun capitalised, but that Holy Ghost! don't quite have the humour to carry off. But then 'Wait and See' is spectacular and from here on in the album slips intogear. 'Wait and See' nearly falls over itself with ennui, a delicious sad chorus of “Well you promised to be honest with me/Were you being honest… honestly?” underpinned with a rocksteady 4/4 beat and riffs that fit perfectly. This deserves to track 2011’s summer romances.
Whilst Holy Ghost! never quite recaptures the pure pop-rush of 'Wait and See' there’s still plenty to enjoy. 'Say My Name' places that immovable backbeat upon a refreshingly authentic late disco tune, reserved and in this respect more akin to Imagination and that empty street sound, as opposed to the more exuberant disco tunes of The O’Jays. It thumps through six minutes of neck jutting and the piano flourishes tingle with beauty. Similarly 'Jam for Jerry' confidently plays the vintage card, octave bass lines and a thicker chorus. Throughout, the album pairs a beefy set of Eighties synth sounds with the rhythms and romance of Seventies glamour.
Where the pair fall short is in their street talking. 'Hold On' crackles and pulses with venom yet vocally the duo can’t quite inflect enough desperation into the delivery of the hook “Hold on/Hold tight.” It feels as though, maybe there’s something passionate here the band want to convince you of, maybe not, but it doesn’t matter, whereas the pianos and musical bluster want you to stick your nails into them and hold on for dear life. In the same way 'It’s Not Over' feels like a lack-lustre New Order track, an escalating chorus plateaus nicely but people won’t be fawning over the band for tunes like this. They might for 'Slow Motion', though, a song that powers through its verses and keeps it head down. The melodies match the europhic vocals with some real power in the delivery.
Holy Ghost! is an interesting album and much of the production is loving, well-crafted homage to some wonderfully overlooked disco genres. Unfortunately it’s sometimes a bit thin on songmanship, and there’s never the playfulness of Chromeo or the aforementioned Empire of the Sun. As a result Holy Ghost! provides some brilliant floor fillers and a snatch of great singles, but the duo seem too intimidated by their own influences, and pay them too much respect, to really meet their potential.
6Jon Falcone's Score