This Old Ghost - Family Room
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Record Label: Unsigned
God almighty, it's so nice to be sitting here, listening to This Old Ghost sing a bunch of super sweet, super duper smart love songs. Their folksy mix of pleasant alt-rock (complete with dude/dudette harmonies!) is having, like, an effect on me. Enough of an effect that I'm writing this instead of watching Psych on netflix. So, yeah, big deal. The band's debut full-length, Family Room, comes roaring at you with youthful optimism, yes, but it's also, somewhat astoundingly, self-aware. Take opener, "26," for instance, which features lines as disparate as, "We're out of our minds and happy as sin / We're falling in love at the drop of a pin," and somehow this: "No we're not getting younger / Are you starting to wonder / If I've become jaded." So this record is real enough to realize that spending your nights looking up at the sky doesn't erase the real world you lay upon.
Maybe that's bad, sure. Maybe we like music because it can remove us from the crushing reality of whatever stupid situations we find ourselves. Breakup albums are cathartic because it doesn't matter what really happened: it's their fault. Muse albums are fun because, well, bad example. But I mean, This Old Ghost fall in love head over heels, and then spend a song trying to prove their point to an unsure lover ("Jumping Fences"). Or on closer "Emily Green," when the polar opposite worlds of carefree love and punishing heartache are smooshed together into a power-pop/90's Jimmy Eat World/fiddle-heavy opus. It's music just rickety enough to sound organic. And it's just isolated enough to be utterly enthralling.
You know that feeling you get when you read a really good autobiography? How it's so personal and so far away, and yet here you are grasping at every bit of minutiae that connects you and this stranger. Family Room has such a human quality. Perhaps it's due to how Ian McGuinness and Karri Diomede (who also plays the flute!!) mesh their voices into a sweetly high-pitched combo - when they do it right, however, like on "Dirt Road," they might as well be one person. It's how I wish every Forecast album could sound - scenesters don't have to be full of bullshit. "So tell me how you're gonna make a move / And not crawl inside yourself and play the recluse," McGuinness sings on "Hollowed Out," and it's so thoughtful you can't just sing along. You almost feel compelled to scrawl it on an old wooden desk or somewhere aptly important. God, a band that says something!
So I don't like this album. Haha, JK. Family Room is that necessary album I need at the beginning of each year that reminds me music can't let me down. Obsessed over, but not weighed down by the oh-so-tempting method of smothering its listeners, Family Room puts This Old Ghost in a position to become your go-to band for those days you're just lucid enough to accept the world as it is. Floating above can be nice, but sometimes being tethered to what's really here is the most wonderful feeling of all.
Recommended If You Like: The Forecast, River City Extension, Good Old War