Holy Ghost: Dynamics Review
Holy Ghost! suprised me with their their 2011 self titled debut LP. Not strictly house music like DFA bands Shit Robot or The Juan Maclean while not leaning as far towards pop music as bands like Free Energy or The Rapture, the band’s debut LP collected their slick, ’80s influenced electro-pop that they had been trickling out for some years. It seemed to me it was a document striving to be a slightly dancier, more time-centric version of the knock-out material being created at the time by LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip.At its high point, with songs like “Wait and See,” Say My Name” and “Hold On,” the band captured the DFA zeitgeist while avoiding top 40 shallowness and paint-by-number EDM stumbling blocks. At its low point, it felt contrived and forced. Like many bands in this genre, they seemed able to make killer singles, but pulling together a full LP was a bigger challenge. Luckily for them, the highs were high enough that it came out a winner in the end.
Their second LP, Dynamics, is an album that feels even more polished than their (surprisingly polished) debut album. That allows for a confident final product, but also snubs out any songs that could serve to really bring the record to life. This album, for better or for worse, feels like a full length LPthat misses those shooting stars that come when outstanding singles get crammed into a record. It is a record that I don’t dislike, but it also felt a bit hard to love. Sounding more than a little like their former tourmates Cut Copy, the band write songs that are airtight pop jams, but sometimes that precision can numb the energy out of songs that otherwise could be really great. Examples of this happening include the overtly polished track “Dumb Disco Ideas” and the borderline cheesy “Changing of the Guard,” falling prey to the traps they were able to avoid on their debut. Most of the album is enjoyable dance-pop, but nothing makes you reach for the repeat button in the same way a few of the best tracks on their debut record did. Highlights of Dynamic include the bubbling synths of “Bridge and Tunnel” and the disco-noir opener “Okay,” and there are many other tracks that are solid if unspectacular.
Dynamics may win over a new segment of fans, but I don’t see how it is going to play well with the base. Anyone who dug the 1st LP is more than likely going to find Dynamics restrained and “mature” sounding in a way that snuffs out all of what was good about the band. It is a record that shows technical growth and a clear ability to craft slick pop tracks. Whether that sounds to you like a compliment or a dig will ultimately determine where you stand with this record.
Buy the record from DFA HERE.