Florida’s Roadkill Ghost Choir have had a tough few years. As outlined in this feature with Flagpole, the band were victims of their own success and the cut-throat, numbers-led, nature of that dreaded thing the music business. Thankfully, legal battles won and creative freedom reinstated, the band are back with a new EP, False Youth Etc. Vol. 1, the first of two volumes that will eventually be combined on CD and vinyl.
The record sees Roadkill Ghost Choir flesh out their sound with keyboards and synths, taking as much inspiration from 80s Springsteen as contemporary acts such as The War on Drugs. As if to reaffirm their right to the music, the band decide to open with a ten-minute epic, ‘Vision on Vision. Undo’. The track feels like a warm and dusty road trip, part sepia-toned country, part neon bathed dream pop, headed for the shimmering mirage that never leaves the horizon.
First single ‘Classics (Die Young)’ has some of that The War on Drugs-esque hip-swaying psych rock, the big 80s kick drum and crystal clear synths painting the track silvery white as summer moonlight. Lead Andy Shepard’s vocals sound all up-close-and-confident in the verses before soaring in great arcs across the chorus, giving things a breathless, cathartic feel. This 80s pop hit vibe is accentuated during the outro, all noodling Paul Simon style sax and floating “yeaaahh”s, the final indication that Roadkill Ghost Choir have written a real jam.
‘Cassette Memory’ has a warm and grainy texture, the vocals syruped over shuffling percussion and gently wheezing harmonica, adding a sense of smooth melody before the entrance of languid guitar and snappy toe-tapping drums. ‘Dream Shiver’ is another pop song for long warm nights, as textured and refreshing as a fragrant summer dusk, the quicksilver chorus as smooth and fluid as tropical waves lapping on a shore.
The opening half of ‘Severed Hand of God’ is more reminiscent of the band’s earlier, folk-tinged work, playing over the sound of barroom conversation, relatively spare guitar supporting Shepard’s voice as it rises and falls. This is joined eventually by drums and a barrage of instruments, kicking things up into a deranged frenzy. Eventually the song settles back into its original mood, with subtle piano and the original hubbub and chatter, as if what came in between was just a daydream. The EP then ends with ‘KLP#1’, a short instrumental outro that shimmers and swells, a cerebral palate cleanser after the journey of the previous five tracks.
The collection is packed with strong songs and certainly raises the anticipation for Volume 2. All signs point towards Roadkil Ghost Choir being back and, perhaps, better than ever. You can get False Youth Etcetera Vol.1 now from the Roadkill Ghost Choir Bandcamp page.