5 Track, EP (2007, Modular)
My first impression of Ghostwood, or The Ghosts as they were then, was an ambivalent one. Prematurely plucked from obscurity as the left-field selection to open for the The Howling Bells’ smouldering country-noir, the skinny youngsters appeared to be genuine rabbits in the headlights. The skittering energy of their songs was as remarkable as their gormless stage presence and failure to say anything more than a mumbled thanks, not even mentioning who they were. Anything from cult stardom to complete disappearance from the scene seemed on the cards. Since then, they’ve tightened their live show considerably through appearances at seemingly every second-tier club night Sydney has to offer and steadily built up hype around their tight, anxious songs, signing to Modular earlier this year.
Ghostwood are a young band, but this is incidental; their music has none of the youthful enthusiasm of, say, Be Your Own Pet or Operator Please and their roots seem firmly planted in the early 80s. There’s a surprising word-weariness about them, seen in the often desperate screech of Gabby’s voice, the faint gothic shadows in the nervy guitar work and the lyrics hinting at loneliness and frustration. Their influences all seem to suggest a more mature mindset – the most obvious reference point would be the spiky angularity and isolation of British post-punk. Early Cure, when the influence of The Sex Pistols was still apparent, would be one touchstone, particularly on the stark introduction to ‘Pencils’. A bit derivative perhaps, but their potential is limitless.
by Daniel Herborn