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Album Review: United Ghosts – s/t

Los Angeles-based indie rock four-piece United Ghosts were initially founded by Sha Sabi and Axel Steuerwald, and subsequently joined by drummer, Sean Burgess, and the mesmerising guitar style of Jason O. Over the past few years, they’ve grown into a complete and hypnotizing rock band, but it was only after releasing their 2011 single, ‘Holes into the Night’, that they began to truly grow in listeners and popularity. Fast-forward to nearly two years later, and their self-titled debut album is finally here.

First up is ‘Echo Lake’, a track marked by its classic 808 synth loop, which is later matched with consistent snare hits and the rock-esque vocals of Steuerwald. The chorus, which features back-up vocals from Sabi, meanwhile, is distinctly electro-rock in flavour; packed with psychedelic, hypnotic guitar melodies and a repetitive electro bite in the background.

To contrast, the lovely harmony that introduces ‘The Revolution Waiting’ is attention catching from the offset. It cultivates an extremely calming atmosphere until around 2:45 in where a mini-breakdown grounds the remainder of the track, though it still remains relaxing and never too overpowering.

‘Modern Crimes’ features shared vocals switching from the verse and chorus. Sabi and Steuerwald’s voices fit together flawlessly alongside the electro-indie vibe marking a definite highlight on United Ghosts. ‘Sparkle and Fade’, on the other hand, sparkles throughout: from the slower guitar riffs at the track’s beginning, to the minimal effects and echoed guitar that come to prominence later on.

‘Sparks from a Cold Star’ and ‘Coat of Arms’ showing a faster, more ferocious side to United Ghosts. Rife in strong and powerful riffs, crashing cymbals and reworked tonalities that find an interesting hinterland between The Beatles and Sonic Youth.

From the early days of ‘Holes into the Night’, United Ghosts have always been a band with a great deal of promise. Its reappearance here is the perfect testament to this. It possesses an impeccable balance between the band’s electronic and rockist influences. It’s this equilibrium across United Ghosts that ensures its ten tracks remain captivating throughout, and contrary to what ‘Unhypnotized’ may tell you: it will definitely keep you fixated.

- Jess Edwards

United Ghosts is available now on Tambourine Girl.

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