Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Album Review: Gross Ghost - Public Housing

There’s a particular, specific joy to hearing a band grow over time and Gross Ghost’s second full-length album, Public Housing, invokes this emotion through and through.

The most noticeable change is clearer production. Lead singer Mike Dillon’s prickly vocals don’t get lost in the mix as often and it’s a boon. The unique texture of his voice helps Gross Ghost sound entirely its own.

The tension of a polished melody with a rough-edged delivery is the engine behind the band’s music. With Dillon’s voice front and center, Public Housing is more successful than Brier Rabbit at capturing sonic concept of the band.

Beyond the technical improvements, Gross Ghost sounds like a sure-footed, confident band. Public Housing avoids the second half fade of its predecessor and none of the songs sound like a band trying something on for size. There’s a clear purpose and motivation behind the songs here.

“You Will” is the catchiest song in the band’s entire catalogue. As the first run of the chorus finishes, there’s a brilliant turn that launches the band back into another run through. It’s exhilarating.

Where the band’s growth really shows on Public Housing is on songs like “Hair of the Dog.” It replaces the heavy rock beats with a laid back dance groove, but unlike Brier Rabbit’s “Lazy Little Walk” which screams “Hey look! We replaced the rock beat with a jazz shuffle” the band allows the new beat to do its work in the background without fanfare. This makes “Hair of the Dog” a satisfying and slick closer rather than a quirky experiment.

Gross Ghost has put in a lot of hard work the last year and it's thrilling to hear them reap the benefits of it on Public Housing.

Gross Ghost will host a record release party at the Cat’s Cradle Back Room on November 22 with Last Year’s Men and Schooner. Tickets at $8 in advance and include a coupon for half off a Public Housing CD or LP.

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