Review: John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

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3

I’m not usually one for Techno or electronica. In fact, I am not one that would ever align myself with the sounds of 80s synthesizers. But John Grant offers a uniqueness that doesn’t suddenly make me a lover of the genre but a uniqueness that brings out the detective in me. There is a modern twist to the sound that thankfully does not include any visions of Lycra, fishnets or bad hair.

Pale Green Ghost is the first meeting of this unique blend of sound. Grant recalls that it is about wanting to “go out into the world and become someone and made my mark.” This could be applied to the entire album as there is certainly a depth of truth to the album. It has been said that a sense of personal struggle is where great artists find the opportunity to really come into their own. This is questionable but It Doesn’t Matter To Him and  Why Don’t You Love Me Anymore are just two examples of how the personal struggles Grant has faced over recent years has influenced his sound in a way that is noticeably distinct from Queen of Denmark, released in 2010.

It is up to the listener to decipher whether this change in arrangement is preferred or too much of a deflection. Either the choices that artists make cannot be a product of whether their sound is going to be attractive to mass audiences; it should be about a personal discovery that incorporates a sense of vulnerability that is felt when the decision is made to be open. There is no doubt that John Grant does not fail in this department in spite of the dominating techno sound.

GMF is where the album enters into its own brilliance; calmness is introduced to the sound that compliments the eerie feel that can be traced from that point on and throughout the entire album.  Ernest Borgnine offers a peek into the flexibility of John Grant’s sound. The combination of the superior electro sound with slithers of jazz is one that should be taken note of and thoroughly appreciate. The inclusion of more of this uncommon experimentation would have taken the album to a new level of near perfection.

If you’re a fan of techno with a twist then go for it. Have this on full volume and appreciate its brilliance. Personally, it is not going to be on repeat and I have sadly not captured techno or trance fever and don’t see this changing anytime soon.

Simi Abidakun