“Aren’t ghosts already dead?” you might ask. Semantic confusion aside, Dead Ghosts deal in the sort of gutsy garage rock that is waiting to soundtrack your next road trip. Their third LP, Love And Death And All The Rest, comes to us courtesy of indie powerhouse Burger Records: a label that eschews the adage of “quality over quantity” by simply having tons of both.
The album jolts into action with “Another Love,” a song which, with its sun burnt guitars, plodding bass and unexpected psych freak-out, would have made Captain Beefheart proud. Indeed, the album cover of LADAATR is reminiscent of Beefheart’s Safe As Milk. Yet it’s fractured and scrawled over in black ink, an artistic decision reflective of Dead Ghosts’ work as a whole. The band resurrects the sounds of classic psychedelia-infused garage rock (a backwards guitar here, a tremolo-laden organ there), whilst the on-point production spruces them up for a fresh sound.
“Upside Down” transports the listener from Dead Ghosts’ native Vancouver to the searing heat of the Mojave Desert: rattlesnake-like vibraslaps whirr and crickets croak over languid country guitars. “You said you’d rather be dead / Than playing on The Top of the Pops,” frontman Bryan Nicol drawls. Clearly Dead Ghosts aren’t aiming for the mainstream. And that’s just fine by them. Indeed, although more ambitious than their previous two albums, LADAATR is perhaps too left-field and lacking in hooks to make Dead Ghosts the kind of success that kindred spirits Black Lips are.
However, crossover success or not there is a lot to love about this album. The second half covers so much ground musically that it’s almost hard to keep up. “Living In My Mind” could soundtrack Tarantino. “Waste My Time” starts out Sabbath then ends up psychedelic surf-rock. And “Anything For You” is a heartfelt Smith Westerns-esque love song. Final track “I Will Be Gone” sounds like the soundtrack to the last dance at the punk highschool of your dreams, its heartsick ‘60s backing vocals giving way to screeching guitars and feedback before fading away. “I will be gone” Nicol laments. But I for one am hoping that Dead Ghosts are around for a long time to come.