[13 May 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Staten Island’s Ghost Bunny has reportedly gone through many changes over the years. Not only have band members come and gone, but the band name itself has metamorphosed in time—they used to be known by the slightly more morbid moniker Dead Rabbit, as well as the more ordinary group name the Rabbits. Given their final choice, it will surprise no one that this quartet plays an American Gothic style of keyboard-driven indie rock. The band has earned comparisons to the late ‘90s alternative rock outfit Grandaddy, which is especially warranted by “Mechanical Animals”, from their new, eponymous full-length debut.
The songs on Ghost Bunny are full of dread and wonder in equal measure. They generally manage to rock out, despite featuring morose melodies. Opener “Death and Destruction” portends just that with driving, minor piano chords before the full band kicks in to bring the rock to the fore. Elsewhere, “Siren” marinates in creaky background organ, but overall it has the feel of a Pixies-ish anthem with loud/quiet dynamics. “Domingo Dos”, arguably the best song on the record, could even pass for a latter-day U2 track. However, despite dabbling in the macabre on pessimistic-sounding songs like “All Mutants” and “The Waltz”, the band isn’t all about doom and gloom. The album ends with two tracks titled “Happy Day” and “Happy” respectively, though that might just be irony at work considering the lyrics in the latter: “Have you heard [happy’s] just a word we made up to feel better about our miserable lives?” There is also some much-needed silliness on “Leo”, which is purportedly about a guy who wanders around the city in a lion suit. All in all, Ghost Bunny delivers songs that could be described as bouncy and depressing at the same time. The contrast might get a bit wearying at times over the course of an entire 40-minute album, but Ghost Bunny is an assured collection of minor-key pop gems that will slink into your head and haunt you.