Under Review

Ghost Cousin

Scotland

Old Ugly Recording Co.

Review by James Olson


Ghost Cousin’s first full-length release is enigmatic, to say the least. The Edmonton four-piece has crafted a distinctive sound, fusing elements of ambient indie pop in the vein of Grizzly Bear and Midlake with traditional jazz rock a la Steely Dan. Scotland is an album in the purest sense of the word, a complete song cycle that is ambient, thought-provoking, and evocative.

Like the first rays of the rising sun, “Breakfast and Tea” eases the listener into Ghost Cousin’s swirling, psychedelic musical world. Warm keys, minimal percussion, deftly constructed guitar, and peaceful harmonized vocals coalesce to create a very peaceful and thoroughly enjoyable track.

“Auntie Anne” showcases the band’s more progressive songwriting as a tale of loss, hope, and redemption is woven through a variety of dynamic, jazz-inflected passages.

No other track epitomizes the tone of the record better than “In Any Place,” which boasts a spacey extended keyboard intro, a shuffling swing lead by a simplistic yet effective guitar refrain and beautifully melancholic lyrics. Mathew Letersky displays impressive work behind the kit throughout this song and the album as the whole, pulling double duty as lead vocalist and drummer.

The journey ends with “Take on Another One,” a bouncy, joyful tune carried by a walking bassline, melodic guitar, and stately piano. Over the course of Scotland‘s nine tracks, the listener is invited to pause and enjoy the quieter moments of life. Ghost Cousin’s compositions allow for plenty of breathing room while still remaining fresh and intriguing upon repeated listens. Scotland is the perfect soundtrack for the final days of summer.