Don’t judge a book by its cover. Dad Thighs might have a goofy-chic moniker, but The Ghosts that I Fear is a far cry from a light-hearted gag. This album is a dedicated elucidation of heartbreak, tragedy, and self-loathing.
From delicate and soft to incredibly loud and abrasive, Dad Thighs’ compositions involve clean melodic guitars and thundering self-destruction. “Going to the Dump to Watch the Bears Part One,” for instance, serves as a fitting introduction to this type of songwriting. Beginning slowly, the song picks up into a hard hitting overdriven chorus, ending with a lasting impression that sets the tone for the rest of the album, “If this is love then where is life meant to lead us except in circles?”
“Part Two,” on the other hand, brings with it bright guitars, a melancholy bassline, waltzed drumming, and vocals of harmonized yelling and whispers which juxtapose heartbreak with fury. This song is as devastating as it is tender, with the last two choruses coming from both perspectives of post-breakup depression, down to the details of the ensuing dampened cognitive functions. A point driven home when vocalist Victoria confesses, “I can’t say that I’ve never fantasized about my own funeral and who would be there,” a line which is later repeated by co-songwriter Felix on the dreamscape spoken word interlude, “Every Day.”
These lyrics combine the delicacy of spoken word poetry with frustrated, rage-fueled cries of desperation. At times, however, Dad Thighs’ commitment to raw emotion acts as a double-edged sword, as certain moments come across as overtly self-indulgent. On “The Rain it Raineth,” for example, Victoria yells, “I’ll stand on my rock / Wishing to scream / (Leave me alone) / But I’m too fucking pathetic.” The Ghosts that I Fear suffers from an obsession with heartbreak. It is one thing to write a cathartic song about lost love, but half an album’s worth of lamenting the same subject is overbearing to say the least, ultimately detracting from its lasting impression and meaningfulness. With that said, this ‘woe-is-me’ self-absorption is not always present. Some lyrics are as simple and general as can be, such as on the ballad to self-deprecation, “My Favourite Valentine,” which is carried by the chant, “We’re all in this together / But we all hate ourselves.”
The final track “Sometimes,” is where everything comes together perfectly. With its catchy chord progressions, bright riffs and pounding drums, the band shouts, “SOMETIMES!” As they scream, you can hear the microphones capturing the air being torn out of their lungs by their (possibly damaged) vocal chords. And as it is with the rest of The Ghosts that I Fear, sensitivity is hidden amongst brutality: “Sometimes / A laugh is all we’ll ever need / And at times I still forget to smile.”