Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ghost - Popestar

In the spirit of brevity, I'll keep this review short. Popestar is a 5 track EP with one original song and four covers that draw from some unexpected sources. For those unfamiliar with Ghost, stop reading this and pull up a video of one of their live shows because the only way to understand their strange aesthetic is to see it for yourself. It's a familiar gimmick executed with a commitment to atmosphere that's all their own,

Square Hammer starts off the EP and is everything a Ghost single should be, with the church organ styled keyboards front and center and the driving bass adding some oomph to the simple but effective riffing. Papa Emeritus shines on this track, and the chorus immediately stands out as one of their most infectious. This is the highlight of the EP and its one original track.

Nocturnal Me is an Echo and the Bunnymen cover, and it's the cover that feels the most like a Ghost original. They manage to capture the 80s post-punk moodiness of the original while injecting it with an eerie twist reminiscent of silent horror films. If Popestar ended here it would have been a stellar single, but the final 3 tracks are a mixed bag.

I Believe covers Simian Mobile Disco and the result is a decent faux-gospel style ballad that comes off like a poor man's He Is. Missionary Man, originally by the Eurythmics, is fun as a novelty, but it's the one track on the album that stands out as very obviously a cover. The result is something too tongue in cheek even for Ghost's sensibilities with a blues vibe and guest vocals that go against the atmosphere of the rest of the EP. Popestar ends with Bible, originally by Imperiet. At six and a half minutes it starts to drag a bit by the end, but the track lends itself perfectly to being transformed into something that feels quintessentially like a Ghost closer.

Popestar comes in all crosses blazing with a powerful new single then digs deep for an interesting but inconsistent assortment of covers.Very much worth a few listens, but its primary achievement is making the wait for the next album a little easier.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

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