John Grant

Pale Green Ghosts

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The title track from the ex Czars' frontman's second solo outing, the chilly, electro-kissed Pale Green Ghosts, sounds like a Brendan Perry (of Dead Can Dance)-fronted Kraftwerk taking on a James Bond theme. Like much of the album, it's icy, stylish, pompous, and self-obsessed, which is the direct antithesis, at least sonically, of his previous album, the maudlin, confessional Queen of Denmark, which was made with the help of wistful Texas folk-rockers Midlake. Pale Green Ghosts, on the other hand, was recorded in Reykjavik, Iceland with the help of GusGus' Birgir Þórarinsson (Biggi Veira) and while Grant keeps the microscope firmly on himself throughout the 11-track set, he does so with more wit and panache than he did on the record's predecessor. Populated by slinky electro-pop cuts ("Sensitive New Age Guy" and "Black Belt"), saucy, Harry Nilsson-esque, chamber pop fight songs (the saucy "GMF," one of two tracks to feature backing vocals from Sinéad O'Connor), and melodramatic "Return to Oz"-era, Scissor Sisters-inspired ballads ("Vietnam," "I Hate This Town," and "Glacier"), Pale Green Ghosts has a little something for everyone, and while all of the over-sharing can be a little overbearing, Grant's huge, expressive, and oddly comforting voice acts as a sedative, turning even the saddest, raunchiest, and most uncomfortable turn of phrase into a caress.

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