Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
There are two colors to the English sky—“grey” and “night”—and on The Ghost in Daylight, Nick Talbot trains his eyes on the mesh where the two meet. Talbot’s fifth record as Gravenhurst finds the Bristol-based songwriter pushing together pastoral folk with pasted-on noise rock and nostalgic Britpop. Talbot is a master sequencer, brave enough to match finger-plucked acoustic ballads with eight minutes of shoe-wave, and what holds the album together isn’t so much the individual songs but a purposeful, ever-present murkiness.
Bristol songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Talbot's fourth album for Warp is a gorgeously hallucinatory affair, marking a slight shift towards late-80s/early-90s psychedelia. The Ghost … occasionally conjures up the Stone Roses's gentler moments, the hymnal sections of Spacemen 3's Playing With Fire and the Church's hazy masterpiece, Priest = Aura. And yet, for all the melancholy beauty, there's an atmosphere of quiet disturbance which makes it chime eerily with our times.
Patience is the watchword for Gravenhurst fans, whether they're listening to Nick Talbot's complex songs unfold or enduring a five-year wait between releases, like the one between 2007's brilliantly eclectic The Western Lands and The Ghost in Daylight. Talbot's fourth album is aptly named; these silver-and-grey songs are so subtle and delicate that they seem like they could float away at any moment. This ultra-whispery direction is something of a surprise following The Western Lands' rock leanings, but on this album Talbot spends more time unifying his wide-ranging palette than dabbling in it.
It's a neat coincidence that Gravenhurst, Mount Eerie, and Sun Kil Moon have new records out within a month of each other; Bristol-based Warp artist Nick Talbot has often made music that's felt like the middle ground between Phil Elverum's stormy moods and Mark Kozelek's post-Red House Painters Spanish-inflected, wry acoustic work. Elverum and Kozelek have maintained comparative levels of prolificacy in recent years, implementing subtle changes to their sounds across frequent releases. Talbot hasn't put out an album since 2007, and his records often seemed to bear a blocky stylistic relationship to each other; the focused, Mogwai-gone-psych folk of his last album, The Western Lands, followed the textbook gothy strains of 2005's Fires in Distant Buildings.
Nick Talbot, aka Gravenhurst, is not a guy for parties. Buzzkill subjects abound on his fourth record: the emptiness of the past; photos of murdered girls; the catastrophically high price of Big Macs. OK, perhaps not the last one, but Talbot could ruminate on that and still make it sound likea bittersweet trip to your ruined hometown with his signature spook.
Gravenhurst serves as the songwriting vehicle for British soundscapist Nick Talbot, who’s ending the longest hiatus of his career with The Ghost in Daylight. There’s always some added pressure after a long break between albums and it’s been five years since his previous effort The Western Lands, an album of feedback-drenched folk that showcased Talbot’s ability to achieve restrained grandeur while still sounding organic. Talbot aims for the former but abandons the latter on The Ghost in Daylight, an exercise in drab over-calculation.
As any counsellor or therapist worth their salt will tell you, excessive time spent ruminating is time spent doing something akin to self-harm. The point where you start going over past events again and again, is the point where the logical and linear exploration of an unfortunate or unpleasant series of events gets twisted into a loop that it is near impossible to escape from; where necessary examination of the past becomes a tar pit of depression in the present. Even if you understand what’s happening once you reach this point it's often too late to do anything about it.