The pedigree behind The Black Ghosts is undeniable. Solely on the grounds of having produced both "Never Be Alone" (Simian's pre-Justice original "We Are Your Friends") and "Ooh La La" (The Wiseguys' ubiquitous beer commercial, big beat era jam), Theo Keating and Simon Lord deserve your attention. Luckily, once you have given them your attention, they do have enough tunes to keep you listening.
While the overall vibe of the Black Ghosts debut is a bit less 'banger' than might be expected from their past works, they do spread the groove around, and make use of as many references as possible to keep things interesting. "Some Way Through This" and "Anyway You Choose to Give" mine piano loops and post rave tropes in a Streets vein, but keep things melodic enough to recall Lord's Simian past. A guest nod by Damon Albarn on "The Repetition Kills You" will bring obvious Gorillaz comparisons, but the actual song never suffers for it. And this seems to be the case for the whole LP, as the duo treads into almost every nook and cranny of modern music without a mis-step, from Justice hard house to anthemic disco roller rink funk and even in to Balearic chill out territory.
But as much as the Black Ghosts knowledge and abilities are on show, and as much as they excel in these areas, the record does suffer a bit from its schizophrenia. The Black Ghosts can be a jarring experience, and a bit confusing, and in the end, listeners may find themselves grasping for 'singles' that never seem to bubble up. With such memorable past triumphs, it may seem that Keating and Lord may have set the bar too high in the past for such early success here. Luckily, even though at times the prevailing feeling here is that this not a wholly realized act yet, the room for growth may bode well for the future.
"The Repetition Kills You"