…is what you imagine Team Ghost exclaiming roughly every four minutes on their debut album “Rituals”. The French three-piece, which has expanded to five of late, bloody love a crescendo.
Perhaps that’s not surprising considering Head Ghost is former M83 man Nicolas Fromageau (that is French for cheesy, right?). He used to be half of the celebrated electro-shoegaze outfit alongside Antony Gonzales, but left after touring what remains the band’s best album, “Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts”.
It took a while for him to re-emerge – while Gonzales toured the world, Fromageau ended up stuck working shifts in shitty supermarkets, using his spare time to nurture the seed of Team Ghost with former M83 manager Jean-Phillippe Talaga and childhood friend Christophe Guerin. Yet until now there have only been a couple of well-received EPs to show for it. You could say it’s been a long, slow build-up to the release of this, their first long-player (woo! Crescendo!).
While there’s certainly a touch of “Dead Cities…” to “Rituals”, not least the mixture of melancholy atmospheres with massive crescendos (woo! Crescendos!), Team Ghost are definitely a different beast. Indeed, as M83 have steadfastly moved into bright lights and major keys (“sometimes it sounds a bit like Sting,” is Fromageau’s cheeky analysis), Team Ghost tend to plow a lonelier furrow.
Which is not to say the record is in any way downbeat. While opening track ‘Away’ sets the stall out straight away, spreading layers of guitar over a tearfully emotional electronic base, that doesn’t stop it building to a blisteringly intense crescendo (woo! Crescendo!). ‘Curtains’ is similarly hi-octane, with a verse that could soundtrack the dénouement of a superhero flick and a chorus that sounds like the engine of Bono’s Tesla Roadster as it speeds down a coastal road.
Sometimes the more uptempo tracks are slightly wearying. ‘Dead Film Star’ has a great video (see below) but is basically indie disco fodder, while ‘Fireworks’ might as well be titled ‘My First Krautrock Record’. ‘Montreuil’ goes for a more Andreas Dorau meets Aha kind of feel and provides a brilliant burst of sunshine on an otherwise overcast record, but it’s the sort of sunshine that makes you seek out a spot of shade after a couple of minutes.
No, Team Ghost are at their best when conjuring ornamented dynamic shifts. ‘Things Are Sometimes Tragic’ is all pounding toms one minute and delicate tinkling the next, while ‘All We Left Behind’ creates a blub-tastic atmosphere out of low-pitched strings and mournful piano, before shattering everything with a gigantic burst of drums and guitars (woo! Crescendo!). The streamlined post-rock structure suits them very well.
Other highlights include the ‘overdriven guitars vs. xylophone arpeggio’ battle during the inevitable crescendo (woo! Crescendo!) on ‘Team Ghost’, and a typically cheery track about drug addiction entitled ‘Pleasures That Hurt’ which features a vocodered Guerin lamenting “muddled memories that bite before they hit” over a background of quietly malfunctioning electronics, before the volume rises about fifty notches halfway through (woo! etc). Team Ghost are apparently extremely loud when they play live, and you can imagine this being the point where your eardums finally make like Girls Aloud and split.
The best track, however, is the pleasingly perverted ‘Somebody’s Watching’. It has a sordid Pulp vibe to it, with the lyrics reading: “Somebody’s watching / It turns me on / Let’s keep on fucking, baby / Until it comes” (all the vocals are in English as Fromageau insists that: “Except for Stereolab, I can’t think of any band I like who sing in French”). It’s a brilliant track, and there’s a tasty progression when everything but the backing vocals unexpectedly drops out, laying the path for a gradual swell up towards the climax (woo!).
You know the album’s reached it’s conclusion when ‘we Won’t Fail’ features no charged increase in volume at all (boo!), but it’s a pleasant goodbye. M83 may have hit many of the career heights that Fromageau’s new band are still a long way from, but though they’re travelling more slowly you get the sense that Team Ghost could eventually surpass those peaks. Woo! Crescendo!