2020 is the year of a lot of things -- and a lot of concept records.
But not a lot of ghost-themed concept records.
Houseghost is an Ohio trio that shares vocals between a sister-brother team. The songs are about, well, having a ghost in the house and all the hijinks that might involve. It’s a theme, but relatively loose and playful. It’s not as absurd as Wolf-Face and not as serious as everything else you pictured when I said “concept record.”
The band itself plays pop-punk, schooled in all the various subgenres of that hyphenated term. The 14 songs on this self-titled record would diverge into a pyramid of related but diverse styles that have pop and punk at their core. There are shades of Raging Nathans, with whom Houseghost shares members, but I honestly hear more Vacation and perhaps The Muffs depending on the song. There are straight-up Lookout Records school songs like “Deep Inside Your Heart Of Hearts,” but also more Midwestern fueled tunes like “Darling,” with layered harmonies. Sometimes the songs are built around those harmonies, sometimes it’s a linear lead vocal that gives heart to the song, and at others it’s a punchy rhythm section that delivers a bit of a harder edge -- such as in “Zozo” which has some serious Night Birds vibes. Often, all of these styles meet somewhere in the middle, connected by intangibles in the vocals, production and rhythms even when the style changes a bit from tune to tune.
It’s often bouncy Midwest pogo-punk, but there are also moments (entire songs) of mid-tempo, grungy reflection. It’s fun with somber notes. It feels like it’s about finding enjoyment in the little things and making the best of a crappy situation. Hey, look, another 2020 theme!
Standouts include “No Fun Summer,” “Hollow Hallway,” and “Marceline” (yes, as in Adventure Time) -- or basically the middle of the record as a whole. (Oh, and there’s a Cure cover too.)
Also released on cassette via Cat’s Claw Records.
7.5 / 10
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