Ghostwriters

Ghostwriters

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Although this side project turned into an often-touring antipodean outlet for Rob Hirst's traditional garage rock instincts, back in 1991, couched between Midnight Oil's Blue Sky Mining and live album, Scream in Blue, Ghostwriters began their career angling toward a cleaner, more pliant modern rock sound reminiscent of Hunters & Collectors or, by a slight stretch of the imagination, mid-era U2. Unlike such competitors, however, Ghostwriters never let pretension take root. Hirst was always one of the guiding forces of Midnight Oil, supplying the mercurial drumming and those memorable choruses that contrasted so vividly against the group's vials of wrath, and here he's brought more attention to his critical harmonies at the expense of surprisingly little. "Wreckery Road" and "Privileged Shoes/Mind of Machinery" may parallel his full-time band's singles too much ("Forgotten Years" and "King of the Mountain," respectively), but "It Doesn't Take a House to Fall on Me," sung by Dorland Bray, is a solo acoustic number that's more Michael Palin than Midnight Oil, and opener "Someone's Singing New York, New York" takes the chorus from Men Without Hats' "Moonbeam" and pushes it through larruping salt-of-the-earth aggro riffs, ending up somewhere that's not really toxic but tenderized, gently vigorous, and different enough than most anything else that was going on in 1991. Which is why there's integrity here, awkward comparisons notwithstanding, and a sense of self-belief born from the same uncooked power that made Hirst's Midnight Oil contributions welcome and downright indispensable.

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