Release Date: Feb 18, 2013
Record label: wSphere
Genre(s): Electronic, Alternative/Indie Rock
If you were wondering what Nicolas Fromageau has been doing since quitting the synth-pop group M83 in 2004, well, here’s your answer: he’s started a new band, released a couple of EPs and, now, a full-length debut album, Rituals. If you come to Team Ghost, though, with the expectations of hearing more John Hughes-inspired soaring anthems, you may be a tad bit disappointed. The press has dubbed the music of Team Ghost as “coldgaze” – which is what you’d get if you combined the guitar histrionics of Sonic Youth or a shoegazer band like My Bloody Valentine with the cooler and darker synth sounds of, say, a Joy Division.
When a musician leaves a band, they must think they have a good chance of success without those they left behind. Take a moment, then, to consider Nicolas Fromageau, who quit French epic-poppers M83 in 2004 to form Team Ghost. Since then, M83 have blown up and Team Ghost, well, haven’t. Still, ‘Rituals’ should edge Fromageau back towards the limelight, with skyscraping choruses (‘Dead Film Star’), shoegaze swirls (‘Fireworks’) and jackhammer riffs (‘Curtains’) all colliding in an epic dreamscape.
It's tempting to feel sorry for Nicolas Fromageau. He founded the electronic shoegaze duo M83 with Anthony Gonzalez in 2001, sticking around long enough to record critically acclaimed second album Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts before leaving in 2004. Gonzalez then restructured M83 with new members and a new sound, beginning a steady three-album climb up the international charts that culminated in 2011's Grammy-nominated Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
Though Nicolas Framogeau's Team Ghost have become an established and independent project in their own right, he may never escape comparisons to the immense entity that Anthony Gonzalez and M83 have become since his departure. In some ways, his inevitable association with M83 is a shame, but the comparison often feels valid in order to fully understand Fromageau's direction. On Rituals, Team Ghost's first full-length, Fromageau shows that, like Gonzalez, he has the ambition to go big or go home.
While Anthony Gonzalez keeps pitching M83 deeper into the sentimental, the band’s co-founder Nicolas Fromageau has been at work carving out a more sinister side of electro-gaze—or “coldgaze”, as a press release for Rituals calls it. Since leaving M83 in 2004, Fromageau has released two competent, acerbic EPs with Team Ghost, but the band’s debut full-length falls short of its conceit of being M83’s evil twin. For all his attempts at darkness, Fromageau can’t shake the pretty effusiveness that bolstered M83’s first few albums to the spotlight.
It may not be a total departure from what came before, but on their first full-length release Team Ghost certainly appear to be wearing the trappings of a more straightforward alternative rock band. There’s some pure indie pop indulgence too – namely ‘Curtains’, ‘Dead Film Star’ and ‘Montreuil’, with the latter so saccharine-sweet it wouldn’t have been out of place on the first Ladyhawke record. ‘Pleasures That Hurt’ on the other hand pulses with very du jour sub bass and once again expands the group’s sonic palette in unexpected directions.