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Ghost Suns – Testify EP

French electro-pop outfit Ghost Suns are an intriguing pair whose music is best described as a cross between Goldfrapp’s lush beauty and the neon-soaked, downtempo beats of electronic music’s most melancholy corners

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French electro-pop outfit Ghost Suns are an intriguing pair whose music is best described as a cross between Goldfrapp’s lush beauty and the neon-soaked, downtempo beats of electronic music’s most melancholy corners. Their latest EP Testify, takes sonic cues from Lali Puna and maybe a little Depeche Mode, and is mostly terrific. Buoyed by vocalist Lola’s very capable voice that’s tracked to the electronic beats and production of her music partner Jeremy, it’s got plenty to show for.

It’s only “mostly terrific” because it stumbles out of the gates with its average opening title track. It skitters to and fro, with its Euro-popesque vocals but comes off sounding a little hokey. Nonetheless, it’s the only part of the EP that isn’t very good, as the rest of it is perhaps more akin to the level of quality Ghost Suns introduced with their 2017 EP We Are Not Good People (the cut “Wait Out” is a particularly fetching piece of synth-pop).

Take the synthesizer-strewn downbeats of “Down the Hill”, bleak in its painted atmosphere, but musically captivating, it is a very good example of the pictures Ghost Suns can create with their music. The frenetic, fuzzy nature of “Why Criminal?” is another fantastic track; alluring, seductive, and punctuated by the wonderful chorus vocal/music textures that makes it the EP’s stand-out effort. They traverse down darker ambient paths in “Cards on a Bicycle” with its brooding atmospherics, and close out proceedings with “Nothing More”. The closing track is a great example of Ghost Suns’ ability to create electro-pop that remains beautifully restrained without falling into histrionic pop traps.

Opening track aside, there’s plenty to like with Testify, and surely only a taste of what’s to come from Ghost Suns. In the end, 4 out of 5 is really quite good.

(Fierce Panda Records)

Reviews

Hatchie – Keepsake

Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars

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Hatchie Keepsake

Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.

There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.

However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.

The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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