James Greenwood has fit the stereotype of impenetrable mystery man hiding behind technology as Ghost Culture in the run up to his debut LP. Hyped up after being scouted by Erol Alkan and with a tank of New Order’s ‘Atmosphere’ to take regular lungfuls from, his electro-pop vocalism, like a parallel universe incarnation of James Blake doing Depeche Mode, straight away settles into the set of those concerned with coiffures and the campaign to bring back dry ice.
From the flicks of tousled hair and being pale and away with the fairies, the end product sounds more masterful and comfortingly in control than other fashion zeitgeists and angular pouters with every listen. ‘Glass’ in particular epitomises the flourishing of proper pop, carefully honing traditional components of the deep frozen, synth-empowered 1980s and becoming his own supernatural force of nature.
The ever-shortening breach between authentic dancefloors and popstar truisms bears ‘Arms’ – brutally vacant, with added acid tenacity. This is extended by ‘Answer’, whose spec reaches out to big-room house systems, and ‘Mouth’ bringing ample club bounce with digitalism intact.
By design or not, the album falls into a half-and-half divide. With Greenwood’s versions of easy listening, he confesses from under the duvet on the breathy ‘How’, where the track squirms between the cracks in walls of sound enveloping a cosy bedroom HQ. ‘Glaciers’ has the potential for mainstream bigness with its bluesy sorrow found wallowing in a digital last chance saloon. 2015 will be anything but.
Words: Matt Oliver
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