New Jersey transplants Thomas Puglisi and Bryan Patrick make up We Have Ghosts, a band based in Champaign, IL, whose sound can be best generalized as post-punk mingling with soupy layers of fuzz.
Despite releasing a three-track release last year titled EP, EP1 is the duo’s true first EP as the two are still trying to settle into a particular sound. Originally a guitar and drum duo, Thomas moved from drums to guitar, thus relying more on drum machines and programs to serve as their rhythm section. Making due with their limited equipment, the five songs that make up the EP were recorded with a portable recorder and arranged with Garageband. Rather than depreciating the quality of these songs, the warm, almost mono sounding quality accentuates their bleak makeup.
The gaunt opener “Garden” sounds like a cross between Joy Division’s “Atmosphere” and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey.” A sedated tempo, the track’s slow start is conducted by fluid C-86 guitars and a simple bass drum beat that’s been smeared with a smidge of reverb. Emotions mounting with each beat, Puglisi’s quasi-baritone vocals add extra weight to the already glum composition. For more than seven minutes, Puglisi fluctuates through a gamut of emotions, from reflective regret to exasperated angst, as he tries to work out his life post-breakup whilst lying in his mother’s garden (“plant me there and then you can leave / let the roots grow into my spine until the vines pull out of my eyes“).
The swaying “Sara” is the song after the storm yet feelings of melancholia linger. As recursive warping hook weaves, Puglisi recalls his mindset in the fallout of an expired relationship (“you could’ve run anywhere and I would’ve followed you / yours were the wall / yours were the blood / mine were the hospital beds / mine was the loss of memory“).
Somewhere in between the melodic chaos of Deafheaven and the sonic ruination of Mogwai, the duo embrace a stormy sound on “Choir Kids” with burgeoning with heavy glittery riffs and features some of Puglisi’s most dismal lines like “choir kids don’t look up to me / I’m the closest thing to finished that you’ll ever see.”
Channeling a frontman demigod that would be equal parts Matt Berninger (The National) and Nick Cave, Puglisi’s bright baritone vocals on “Sunshine” feel much more spry than what was heard in previous tracks, albeit the dreary chorus (“I got too much sunshine out here / now my head has gone blind“). “HDOTU Pt. 2 and 3” provides an almost starry end to the brief record until it succumbs to the tortured and crestfallen mood that haunted the previous tracks before it.
A fine mix of vividly personal reflection and intrinsic guitar work, EP1 is a fervid listen that stays mercurial and cohesive until the last drop of guitar feedback.
Cereal Pairing: A sad bowl of lumpy oatmeal. Use as many pieces of fruit as needed (ideally strawberries or blueberries)