They're Ghouls - The Dead Love Too LP
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: September 17, 2010
I'm going to admit a reviewer bias here. When I hear "horrorpunk," I usually think "Misfits." Now, it's a terrible thing to equate an entire genre with its flagship artist. I'm aware that psychobilly has taken off and flourished. But I can't help it; it just seems to me that the whole aesthetic has been borrowed. Sure, I like some horrorpunk-leaning bands (Alkaline Trio and My Chemical Romance springing instantly to mind), but forgive me if I find it hard to get excited about the tattoos-and-vampires image/sound of Horrorpops, Balzac, and Murderdolls. Bands along those lines sort of elicit a response of "Meh" from me by default.
What a lovely surprise, then, to find that The Dead Love Too brings something new(ish) to the table. It's a new side-project from Jeff Turner, half of the musical force that is the Turner twins, part of Say Anything, XO, and Safety in Numbers, now part of They're Ghouls (with his "gf"). Their album, sold primarily at the merch tables on 2010's Say Anything/Motion City Soundtrack tour, is... actually pretty good. Despite song titles like "Night of the Living Dead," "ZOMBIE," and "Dawn of the Living Dead"—not much for subtlety—it's... not (overly) derivative of The Misfits. Colour me impressed.
Written and recorded in three days on GarageBand, Dead has an extremely lo-fi sound (same as the latest tour-only from Max Bemis, incidently). This wavers between suiting the music and hurting it, but utimately you're left with the impression that it's pretty punk, anyway. The songs run the gamut from hardcore ("They're Ghouls") to chilled-out ("Night of the Living Dead") to bizarro '50s kitsch in the vein of Ryan Gosling's musical endeavour Dead Man's Bones ("The Dead Love Too"). "The Terror" sounds distinctly like an unreleased Say Anything b-side, something like "Chia-like I Shall Grow," maybe). But the core of the album is a handful of songs with an emo sound, not unlike Motion City Soundtrack, with keyboards laid over pop-punk guitars—the "single," "Dawn of the Living Dead," sure, but even more so "Teen Wolf" and "ZOMBIE," the latter of which is like XO if XO had been contemporaries of (you guessed it) The Misfits. It's a novelty record, but it's got a lot of potential.
Is it jumping the gun to call horror-emo a genre? Perhaps. All I know is that when Turner sings, "All I want is to hold your little hand/Take you into my undead promised hand/Where blood flows from the highest waterfall," I'm pretty much game. If it only takes three days to make a They're Ghouls record, he may as well give us another.