hope in ghosts – S/T EP

Not nearly as pretentious as the monikers Godspeed You Black Emperor!, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and cLOUDDEAD, hope in ghosts goes less obvious, choosing only lowercase letters in its title. Essentially a solo-project from Los Angeles-based musician Ted Flynn, hope in ghosts join the ranks of the slew of instrumental rock groups flooding your favorite venues.
The eponymous four-track EP contains two instrumental rock songs, sandwiched by two versions of the same track: the first version has words, while the other is instrumental. Upon first listening to the EP, the word that immediately popped in my head was the awfully dreaded term – emo. And with each subsequent listen, the letters turned into bright blue neon lights with purple outline in the form of a sign; and they became so bright and sharp that the sign just blew up (see Boogie Nights). Yeah, I despise the word as much as you do, but at the same time, I use the word often – and though the term/genre has been strewed to no end (all the way from Fugazi to the Get Up Kids, can you believe that?), it has actually become quite the descriptor. I’m even considering naming my first-born emo instead of the previously considered, Chief Wiggum. I digress. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this EP is, by modern definitions, emo.
Cymbal-hits and a cordless drill start the first song, “Stitches.” A couple electric guitars arpeggiate major and major-seventh chords, reminiscent of a Sea & Cake (Nassau-era) song. The song continues with a radio-quality voice that narrates a vivid first-person depiction of a man and his first attempt at a one-night-stand – that is, until he sees her stitches (that’s how they got the song title!). Sure, a taped-voice is not all that original to include nowadays, but it’s affective nonetheless.
“My Headphones Are Broken” follows with more arpeggiated guitar lines, intricately weaving out of one another. The song plays much like a mid-90s rocker, stringing comparisons to such rock behemoths as the Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead (The Bends–era). “Math Rock Spy Hunter” begins with an emo-standardized guitar riff. If you’ve heard Sunny Day Real Estate’s “J’nuh,” you’ll know what I’m preaching. Though the title isn’t very apt for the song (no math rock), the song is one of the most interesting. The EP finishes just as it started with “Stitches (instrumental).” I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind the double appearance, but it sure ends the EP on a boring note – especially since the EP is only about 14 minutes in length. I could urinate longer than the EP’s length. Though, I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
The EP was produced by David Newton (ex-Mighty Lemon Drop) and mastered by Dave Klotz (Fonda). Newton also plays Moog on “My Headphones Are Broken,” while Christian Hand beats on the drums. But that’s where the variety ends, as Flynn plays the rest of the instruments. There’s no question that Flynn is multi-talented and is satisfactory in each instrument, but there’s little personality or discernable quality within the songs.
With some tentative LA dates and a new full-length in the works, hope in ghosts has a lot to look forward to. These four songs are a good start, but there’s nothing these songs have that the vast array of instrumental rock bands out there don’t have. A little discordance in the music could spruce things up quite a bit, but hey … I’m just the enemy. What do I know about songwriting?