Ghostwriters

Second Skin

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Written primarily by way of telephone, tape exchanges, airport meetings, and faxed lyrics, Ghostwriters second full-length strengthens the collaboration between Midnight Oil's Rob Hirst and the Hoodoo Gurus' Rick Grossman, but not without problems. The band has expanded their sound to incorporate lamented blues, strummed folk, and aboriginal rock & roll, along with an odd addition of Celtic wind instruments. And as such, it makes the songwriting darker, slower, and more focused on the spirit-wearying themes of poverty, repression, and the 1996 United States presidential election. However, like Midnight Oil's Breathe, which was released the same year, the move from the band's past polished bristle to a more direct and reflecting style is welcome, but wholly unsatisfying in its inability to take its themes to a level higher than mere commiseration. In spite of successful tracks like "Impossible Shame" or "Sleepwalking," Ghostwriters have built up a moral tightness and opened up their technique without the usual rough-and-raw hunger for sonic and social change.

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