Ghost Wave’s debut album, Ages, spins like a time machine caught in endless loops, sandwiching the liberating freedoms of the ’60s and the hazy psychedelic rock of Flying Nun Record’s ’80s catalog to manifest a lush rock ‘n’ roll force. While their first showing proves to appeal enough for a surface-level listen, it fails to pursue past that base enjoyment.
In an effort to make their retro-leaning rock relevant to today’s standards, Ghost Wave drives their instruments through distortion recalling modern, noisy psychedelia like Deerhunter, penning groovy jams that could last for hours. Frontman Matthew Paul leads the band to ”react to the change” as he coasts with a natural, laid-back rock demeanor and occassional sassy vocal punctuation. The band follows with a dominant forefront of distortion and a perseverance to reshape the leading melodies in unity. This is especially evident in “Bootlegs”, as they trade off between full-band ruckus and string-exclusive headbanging.
“Arkestra” serves as the centerpiece of Ages, an instrumental stratosphere of psychedelic warps, its dynamics fluidly shifting to intermittently excite and calm the ears. The album is loaded with a mastery of structure and instrumentation, but the band comes up short in breaking this stagnancy, the tracks too easily blending into each other in a forgettable wash.
The instant gratification from their instrumental highlights doesn’t last forever, either, which is all the more obvious when the band runs out of steam for the final two tracks. Instead of giving these tracks free reign for exploration, they’re cut short and overstuffed with too many tricks. Ghost Wave know their flavors, but they have to infuse some more spirit and variety, in order to do their talents justice.
Essential Tracks: “Arkestra”, “Bootlegs”