Music

Former Ghosts: Fleurs

Harshly cathartic synth-pop supergroup makes intense, polarizing music.


Former Ghosts

Fleurs

Label: Upset the Rhythm
US Release Date: 2009-11-20
UK Release Date: 2009-12-14
Amazon
iTunes

Almost all of the press Former Ghosts have received has been focused on either Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart or Nika Roza of the fast-rising Zola Jesus. Which isn't really fair to Freddy Ruppert of This Song Is a Mess But So Am I -- from the liner notes of Fleurs and listening to the songs, it's pretty clear that these are mostly his songs, with Stewart and Roza providing able support. But at least the intersection of Xiu Xiu (circa, say, "Pox" and their cover of New Order's "Ceremony") and Zola Jesus gives you some idea of what Former Ghosts are up to here.

Fleurs is a polarizing album, but not in an insincere way. You don't get the sense that Ruppert and co. are trying to alienate anyone, but in general either you're going to really love the tinny production, roughed-up synthesizer tones, intensely personal lyrics, and general air of darkness that Former Ghosts traffic in, or you're probably not going to get all of the way through Fleurs. It's not unpleasant music by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not the sort of thing people tend to throw on in the background. This is music that both rewards and comes from serious personal commitment, that's as much about catharsis as it is sonics. At it's best, like "Hold On", "Mother", or the Roza-sung "The Bull and the Ram", it's undeniably powerful stuff.

That also means that many listeners aren't necessarily going to have a lot of room for Fleurs in their life. That's not Former Ghosts' fault (and I doubt that Ruppert, Stewart, and Roza care), and arguably the things that most powerfully affect us are those things that by their very nature can't be widely loved. Perversely, it's that uncompromising quality that is why I'd recommend Former Ghosts to people over less extreme bands. Not everyone will love this music, but anyone who falls for their bracingly harsh and occasionally atonal brand of synth-pop will fall hard.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image