Review: Owen – Ghost town

Band – Owen

Album – Ghost Town

Label – Polyvinyl Records

The circumstances in which you here music for the first time can grossly change your opinion of that music. Songs that could give you chills one moment may leave you feeling numb the next time. For example, most hardcore sounds better when you’re standing in front of the band with the threat of a mass of boddies landing directly on top of you rather than listening to it on christmas morning while your kids are opening their presents (this is assumed by the way and I am now tempted to test this theory next December 25th).

The first time I listened to Ghost Town by Owen I was very susceptible to its many charms. I was stood washing up, my back was hurting and I was feeling a little sorry for myself whilst staring out my kitchen window at the rain that was falling hard on a lonely gnome that stood on my garden table. I’m sure had I put on Cancer Bats that my mood may have been taken in a different direction but as it was the warm gorgeousness of this record took me over. It’s simple, understated in places and very, very beautiful.

As I listen to the album again now to write this review I am currently in hospital and again i’m vulnerable. 3 days ago I had spinal surgery and the pain and exhaustion of the recovery mixed with the multiple drugs that have been administered have left me very tired and emotional. The sweetness of the orchestration, the multiple layers of warm sounds from differing instruments and vocals melt beautifully together and combine to become a soothing elixir for my soul. To quote one of my favourite ever books/films ‘High Fidelity’, “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” In this case there is certainly a bit of both, I wouldn’t say that I’m miserable although it could well be presenting itself as that.

Owen is Mike Kinsella, he of such legendary bands as Cap’n Jazz, American Football, Joan Of Arc and Owls. A man responsible for many hours of me listening to music, staring out of windows, daydreaming, swaying gently and remaining an old school emo boy at heart. ‘Ghost Town’ is Owen’s sixth studio album and it stands it ground with all his other work and demands your attention. It is delicate, solo indie pop done perfectly. Not as sparse as other albums this album certainly builds on the ‘full band’ sound, using electric guitars and many other instruments to fill out the sound. Second track ‘No place like home’ is a perfect example of this where he has everything, drums, 3 different guitar lines, bass, feedback, piano and a wooden xylophone type instrument my tiny mind can’t think to identify. All these work in conjuction, perfectly complimenting one another.

Mike Kinsella manages to sound wounded in his vocal delivery yet happy at the same time. The lovely ‘O, Evelyn’ opens with the lyric “All that I need is to, know that I’ll know you when you’re older” which is underpinned with a lush string arrangement. He then goes on to sing “Don’t die before I do” which is beautifully selfish. It’s the kind of thing I wish I could write for my own beautiful wife. Not being next to her right now because of being holed up in my hospital room has suddenly made me feel very sad again so I think I’ll wrap this one up.

This record is a joy. Please listen to it. It was released on Polyvinyl records late last year, the link for their site can be found right HERE

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Below is a live video of ‘No place like home’ played on solo acoustic guitar x

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