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EP Review: Simian Ghost: Lovelorn

"The charm of listening to something 'quite good', which with a little less exuberant knob-twiddling could be 'very good', frays and dissolves into ambivalence after a handful of spins. "

Simian Ghost - Lovelorn

 

Released November 2011 on Heist Or Hit Records

 

 

Simian Ghost is a funny old example of how international acts are marketed once they reach British shores. A solo side-project stemming from Sebastian Arnström's Swedish alt-rockers Ariel, this new electronic outfit sounds like The Postal Service with an echo pedal or Owl City strung out on horse tranquilizers. Essentially, one of Scandinavia's many pop-minded sons has produced some big hooks and joyously bastardised them with the soothing fumes of some hazy synth.

 

In a classic case of avoiding lengthy descriptors when 'chillwave' will do, the press pack for Lovelorn comes waylaid with this nice buzzword in bright neon lights. With support slots already dusted off alongside Mount Kimbie, SBTRKT and Niki and the Dove, Simian Ghost at least seems to be taking his avant-garde ambitions seriously. I'm just at a loss to explain why.

 

The two crowning moments on this seven track EP come when Arnström wholeheartedly embraces his populist conscious. Both ‘Free Agent' and ‘Bicycle Glow' are rousing tunes to warm a winter's evening with emphatic foot-stomping but they're outnumbered by nebulous and forgettable dross like ‘Note To Self' and ‘Take My Hand And Lead Me Home'. There's an undeniable undercurrent of pleasantries across Lovelorn, from the twinkling crescendos of ‘As You See Fit' to the the shades of glockenspiel sprinkled across ‘Gently Submissive'.

 

Nevertheless, the charm of listening to something ‘quite good', which with a little less exuberant knob-twiddling could be ‘very good', frays and dissolves into ambivalence after a handful of spins. Symbolic of this anti-fun philosophy is the abrupt fade-out terminating ‘Free Agent' which emphatically states that while you may not have had enough of gleaming electro-pop, Simian Ghost has... so there.

 

If Lovelorn was a little less concerned about whether or not to scratch its crowd-pleasing itch, then you suspect over-compensatory terms like ‘chillwave' wouldn't have bandied about its way in the first place. As it is, Simian Ghost stands as a testament to the powers of international indie peer pressure, he fits in instead of standing out.

 

 

 

by Robert Leedham