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A little bit of rambling about the new Cherry Ghost album

11/08/2010

After you’ve began to dwell into music a fair bit more than what you initially started with during the formative music afficiniado years, you tend to begin to find music you just cannot be bothered with. Artists, songs and albums that seem to tick all the required boxes in your musical taste check list and which you had probably got really excited over some time in the past, but now just do not excite. You can go and say “I like this” but you don’t get to desire to hear it, and you can’t say it’s because it’s derivative or soulless or anything like that because there’s some clear attachment points there that tell the artist isn’t some run-of-the-mill guy – but you just cannot be bothered with it anymore. Heard it many times before and while it might have excited you immensely had you bumped to it in the past, it now rings a little bit too familiar or unexciting despite its clear positives.

When Simon Aldred’s Cherry Ghost outfit first bumped into the world with 2007’s Thirst for Romance, there was in no way you could have said that they were anything original: the sort of melodic, contemplative rock that UK seems to excell at producing, much in the vein of Doves, Elbow, Coldplay et al. But it had the magical combination of a frontman with a good voice and some really great songs, and while nothing worth a classic status it continues to be a very good album. After that Aldred disappeared and has only recently begun to reveal why, from label disagreements to musical soul-searching after his claims that the label tempered with his music too much during the debut. Three years later we finally have Beneath This Burning Shoreline and anyone who expected Aldred to return with something completely different now that he’s on a different label and has full creative control can freely feel disappointed because, really, nothing has changed.

In fact, things have remained a bit too static and Cherry Ghost now face themselves under the awkward scrutiny of the phenomenon described in the first paragraph. Aldred is still a very capable frontman with a very good voice and he still has a knack in songwriting – even if nothing comes across anywhere near as strong or lasting as some of the debut’s highlights, eg “A Month of Mornings” and “The Night They Buried Sadie Clay” show the man still has a talent to pull off a good song. But that’s not enough anymore. As said, there’s a lot of music like this around and to stand out you have to do something special. During the time I began to branch out from an obsessive of a few artists to a full-on music appreciator, I would’ve lapped this album up because you could more or less use it as a nutshell to the sort of music I used to love immensely and which still finds itself to be a noticeable enough presence in my collection. By now though, I’ve heard a lot more of similar stuff with a superior presence, lot more music that does the same but ups the ante in one or more ways. Lot more music that essentially reduces Beneath This Burning Shoreline into an album that’s thoroughly enjoyable but which I wouldn’t feel sad about if I had to never hear it ever again.

It’s important to stress that it’s not a weak album – its only genuine structural flaw is its slight over-reliance on low-tempo songs (not necessarily ballads per se) that render parts of it a bit of a chug. It however isn’t anything that impresses with particular specialty. Thirst for Romance was by no means anything out of the ordinary, as stated, but it had moments like “4am”, “Mathematics” and the title track which continue to be Really Great Songs that’ll always find a place in my players. Beneath This Burning Shoreline lacks those big punches and in result loses its fighting edge over its countless counterparts. Why listen to it when I have several albums just like it which offer something better?

Effectively turning Beneath This Burning Shoreline into a case of an all-around nice album that I just cannot be bothered with.


Kissing Strangers

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