Ghost in the Water


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Nathan and Mandy Tensen don't merely have a marriage and one band already, Fitzgerald, but their own electronic-leaning duo, Ghost in the Water; their debut album, Tooth, is at once a familiar enough effort for the early 21st century -- synth pop-inspired sweetness galore, suggesting groups like Mates of State, I Am the World Trade Center, and many more besides -- and a fine little variation on the form. It helps that it's not simply trying to be straight-up synth pop as such -- whether it's the concluding drum break and guitar on "From Mouth to Ground" spiking the near Orange Cake Mix-style feel of the song, or the near classically clean Scandinavian-pop harmonizing on "I'm Not Afraid of Falling," the Tensens mix and match happily for their own purposes. This said, some songs are perhaps a bit too precious at points, such as "Magic Wand,"but in contrast are the sharp sentiments on a song like "Lake Ice," with "I know that you are angry but you sound ridiculous" being the kind of arresting portrayal of interaction with depth one doesn't always find in music (or elsewhere, for that matter). Meantime, the rich, orchestrated progression on "Clean Sinks and Folded Laundry," the band's first composition and an understandable highlight, as well as the epic swoon and melancholy of "Pushpins and Tape" further demonstrate the duo's sonic reach even as "A Nightmare" suggests the minimal but completely tuneful impact of an album like Björk's Vespertine -- if admittedly much less swoopily so in the singing.

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