There are high expectations for Ghostpoet’s new album and rightly so. The two-time Mercury Prize nominee’s previous record – the critically acclaimed 2017 project ‘Dark Days + Canapes’ - is a hard act to follow, but he’s doing it with a striking project that’s both dystopian and prescient, and indicative of today’s times.
‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’ shows how Ghostpoet doesn’t shy away from pressing issues – he tackles them head on. As ever, he does so with brilliance and genre-defying sounds, fusing elements of alt-rock and electronica.
In the opening track ‘Breaking Cover’ Ghostpoet sends mixed messages – “I am alive, I am alive, I am alive / I want to die” – the lyrics perhaps revealing deep, conflicting feelings. He follows with yet more confusion: “I need a break. I need a break. You need a break. We need a break. They need a break. It’s all on top. There’s too much noise”. At six minutes and 30 seconds, there is no time for a flirtation with the music. Rather, this first track is an invitation to become fully immersed in the brooding, intense sound of the album.
Lead single ‘Concrete Pony’ is ruminative, beginning with distortion and building to a dissection of modern society, meanwhile ‘Black Dog Got Silver Eyes’ delivers trippy beats, and ‘Humana Second Hand’ is deeply introspective. “Once again, the happy pills ain’t doing shit,” Ghostpoet asks, “What becomes of me?”, before delivering a whispered verse to chilling effect.
‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’ features guest contributions from an eclectic mix of artists such as Art School Girlfriend, Skinny Girl Diet’s Delilah Holiday, SaraSara and Katie Dove Dixon, to add yet more layers to the project.
‘This Trainwreck Of A Life’ flits between soothing tone and darker stylings, revealing a sense of hopelessness as well as female vocals adding another dimension to the sound. Title track ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’ is more alt-rock leaning than other tracks on the record, and it’s is also more upbeat. Despite the shift in mood, Ghostpoet expresses a desire to escape, repeating the refrain “I am awake”, and exclaiming: “I’m sick of the noise/Why won’t it let me be”. These feel like words written by someone who has a lot on their mind (“I’m constantly questioning”) and they tie in to the project’s first track, ‘Breaking Cover’.
There is a clear sense of urgency with ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’, as well as themes of darkness, despair and uncertainty, yet the songs themselves are eclectic and often extremely catchy. With this, Ghostpoet has created another fantastic, authentic body of work, meeting those high expectations.
Words: Narzra Ahmed
Dig it? Dig deeper: Nick Brewer, PIXIES, Death In Vegas.
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