GHOST WAVE RE-VERSION the Flying Nun sound for 2013, intentionally or coincidentally, and Ages, the New Zealand quartet’s debut, will probably sound compelling to those who weren’t here the first time, while providing a dash of nostalgia and a sprig of herbaceous freshness to those who were.
But where many of the early Flying Nun bands drew on the Velvet Underground (and other hip ‘60s and ‘70s legends) for their aesthetic, what comes through strongly on Ages is a pronounced pop influence, albeit from the same time capsule. The guitars on ‘Horsemouth’, for instance, bear an uncanny resemblance to The Monkees’ ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, and it’s this more commercial aspect of pop at its peak that Ghost Wave seem to be enamored by.
Thankfully, despite traces of The Kinks, the group avoids any obvious Britpop references, and the sound always retains a guitar-driven rawness that the rather excellent production/engineering utilises to good effect. This album could easily have been ruined by too much compression, but thankfully, there’s plenty of texture in these surging dirges and chunky riffage.
They’re not earth-shattering, and there’s nothing here that’s anything like as good as, by comparison, the recent Popstrangers album. But Ages impresses, nevertheless. What it most closely resembles to these ears is the Great Unwashed, that great post-Clean-pre-Clean group that only lasted long enough to shake out a couple of killer EPs. There’s a similar reliance on the strength of unmodified guitar graunch and simple rhythms, and a similar approach to vocals and melody, mixing them low and treating them like afterthoughts, and thereby, funnily enough, accentuating them in a different way. It’s the architecture of these sonic shapings and scrapings that make them interesting. GARY STEEL
Music = 3.5/5
Sound = 3.5/5