Active since 2013, Watercolour Ghosts is yet another progressive, alternative rock band to emerge from the sunny shores of Australia. The band return in 2015 with a reissue of last year’s self-titled debut EP, with the newer release featuring an additional track, the acoustic reinterpretation of opener ‘Like Animals’, which closes the record. The band features Ben Mazzarol, of fellow Perth natives Chaos Divine, on the drums, and his work at the very beginning of the opening track immediately marks this as a release with explicit progressive influences. The re-release has brought them to our ears and review schedule but is unfortunately not enough in and of itself to do much more. However, as an EP, it certainly sets some foundations for a brighter future to come.
The versatility of Mazzarol’s drumming is a highlight of the record, as he alternates between the dextrous style suited to its more progressive sections, and a laid-back approach more appropriate for the peaks and troughs of its post-rock passages. Unfortunately, the band as a whole fails to provide such versatility, each song sufficiently similar to another that they blend into one if you’re merely playing it in the background. While the band can be somewhat forgiven for such an approach, as they seek to establish a core sound and lay the foundations for the album to come, it still doesn’t make for an engaging record. Whilst the attentive listener will still find Watercolour Ghosts an enjoyable listen, it takes too much effort to successfully pars it.
The guitar work is a fusion of alternative rock and post-rock, which means there is an absence of riffs in the traditional sense. Instead, the guitars are layered atop one another as they build sonic soundscapes for other aspects of the music to work within, creating an ambience entirely fitting of their style. Unsurprisingly, Karnivool’s influence is obvious throughout, particularly in the vocal department, where Drew James Griffiths’ melodic vocals are given plenty of musical space in which to shine.
The lyrics are uniformly morose throughout, and his melancholic delivery and excellent pitching represent the EP’s centrepiece; the songs have been built around him and he duly carries the record. As the record progresses and we encounter more ambient passages, the bass becomes increasingly audible as the band play with the mellow-to-loud dynamics characteristic of the genre. In fact, given the nature of the guitar playing, there are several passages where the rhythm section is driving the music along, with engaging bass lines and nimble drumming, and so each member is given the opportunity to showcase their abilities.
The record proper ends with the climactic ‘Solipsism’, before leading into the aforementioned acoustic track, the two versions of ‘Like Animals’ bookending the record. This track can be interpreted as an acoustic representation of the EP as a whole. It is a track which offers no surprises, yet provides a glimpse of what the band could be capable of and leaves the listener eager to see what they do next. Ultimately, that is what an EP is designed to do, garner attention for a talented group of musicians, allow them to experiment with or establish their sound, and provide a teaser for what their next full-length could contain. It won’t set the world on fire, but Watercolour Ghosts is a solid release which could very well mark the beginning of something special. Remember the name.
Watercolour Ghosts – Watercolour Ghosts gets…