Crowd-funding is the new black for many media outlets, a great tool favoured by both the known and the unknown creators alike. However, it’s a risk for both the fans, who are staking their hard-earned against what is sometimes little more than an idea in its infancy, and the artist who will be skulking, red-faced, back to the drawing board if no one believes in them enough to pledge monetary support.
Ghouls had no such qualms when suggesting the public buy into their highly anticipated debut album “Ten Thousand Words On”. With a very nicely sized fan base gained largely through mammoth tours and oodles of hard grafting, the band successfully smashed their target in a matter of months. It’s 11 solid songs (plus there was a five-track acoustic EP awarded exclusively to pledgers) that will speak volumes to young people; yes, they cover the grown up stuff like finding yourself and choosing a path in life, love, lust and everything in between, but you don’t get there without indulging in a little promiscuity and irresponsibly drinking yourself into oblivion along the way, to the point where “you got yourself in such a mess, couldn’t even take a cab ‘cos you didn’t know your address!” These cheeky lads have more than a few stories like that to tell.
We open with “Letters”, only a hair over half a minute but a great tone-setter for a record stuffed with ridiculously infectious punky-ska melodies (if you don’t wanna put “Dive In” on repeat for the next three days, you may as well have your ears confiscated now). Long-standing fans will recognise some of the classic tunes like “The Beautiful Game” and “Oceans” from earlier EPs or as live staples but this time around it feels like they’ve kicked the tempo up a wee notch on a lot of the tracks as well as tweaking, polishing and ironing out a few creases. The tiniest, most minor niggle would be that they didn’t keep the famous opening scream in “Live”. Sure, it’s there but it just ain’t the same, have a listen!
Plenty of prominence is rightly given to the horn section throughout, without whom the vibe of this whole thing that Ghouls are offering wouldn’t be half as special. Plus, they are undoubtedly a fundamental component of the genre (whatever that genre may be, I challenge you to find someone who’s settled on one definition). However, credit should also definitely be given for the use of both the acoustic and the electric guitar at once, an element that equally contributes to what is now Ghouls’ trademark multi-dimensional sound. “Quit While You’re Ahead”, the track where the album’s name was grabbed from, is certainly an anomaly amid the other more bouncy, animated songs but every decent album needs a ballad. This one utilises the brassware from a refreshingly different angle and is an all-round incredibly mature number both lyrically and melodically – a little acoustic oasis, if you will, of serenity and reflection in an album otherwise packed with attitude-y, wild child anthems.
Come December this year when the music boffs are compiling their lists of the albums of the year, you’ll struggle to find a reputable one where “Ten Thousand Words On” hasn’t earned a mention. Regardless of the fact that we’re just shy of a month into 2014, a consistently strong debut like this will boost Ghouls up to the forefront of the people’s consciousness this year, and don’t forget you heard that here first.