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Record Review: Holy Ghost!’s Holy Ghost!

By / Posted on 02 May 2011

Holy Ghost!Of course Holy Ghost! have made a proper dance record. They’re signed to DFA Records, home of The Juan MacLean, Hercules and Love Affair, Prinzhorn Dance School and LCD Soundsystem. At this point, it would be less surprising if DFA branched out into country music than if they were to release a thoroughly forgettable and derivative dance record. All the aforementioned DFA artists had something that made them unique – a distinct voice or style that made them instantly recognizable. This is where Holy Ghost! are currently lacking.

As a proper DFA record, Holy Ghost! hits all the right notes. Fully aware of where their danceclub tree laid its roots, the music presented in this package is equally informed by 70′s and 80′s new wave innovators like Blondie, Liquid Liquid and Talking Heads. There is a noticeable pattern in the music and lyrics across the album, but it never crosses the line of distraction and the focus is always on making the listener shake their goddamned groove thing. Just try not to work up a sweat listening to “Jam For Jerry.” Doing so would be an act defying every funky bone in your body. There is a laser-like focus in Holy Ghost! of skipping the foreplay and getting straight to the grimy sexed-up  heart of dance music.

That’s not to say the boys of Holy Ghost! aren’t ambitious enough to reach beyond their limits. When writing vocals for closing track “Some Children,” Alex Frankel realized the hook was outside of his vocal range. Producer James Murphy recognized the problem and called in Michael McDonald, former Doobie Brother and king of Yacht Rock, to croon the smooth melody. In this one unbelievable stroke of luck, the already retro-inspired dance record tethers itself to a forgone generation and makes itself even more of a time capsule of all things good in the nightclub lifestyle.

Any one of these ten songs could easily be looped for an hour and more than appease the masses of any neon-lit dance hall, but they have instead been cropped down and given vocals that speak directly to the pop scene. There is a distinct lack of pretense. There are no unnecessary bells and whistles (odd, as dance is one of the few genres that openly accepts both bells and whistles), simply a desire to have a damn good time. Holy Ghost! are not here to redefine dance music or how you react to it, they’re just here to get down and dirty.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.

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  1. [...] label of today, should join forces to cover one of Ministry’s earliest singles. Holy Ghost! (who we love) welcome LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang and Juan MacLean for this sincere and funky [...]

     

    on 28 November 2011 / 9:09 AM