By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)
As referenced in the title of Ghostpoet’s fourth album, the time we are living in right now are, without a doubt, dark days. Due to this, many artists, bands and other members of the media industry have used their medium as a form of escapism whilst some have used it to rally momentum for change. However there a few that have been overwhelmed by the current state of the world and find themselves with nothing much to say other than how awful everything is, and Ghostpoet finds himself very much in that place on this bleak record.
Throughout his career, Ghostpoet has has no problem sounding unique and relevant. While his influences have always been clear, the contrast between his electronic and more recently alt-rock sound, combined with his often laid-back, spoken-word delivery, is something that is distinctly memorable and that has always been his strongest asset. However now on his fourth album, that is no longer enough as he now has to stand out amongst his own back catalogue and continue to progress musically – whilst making some strides in doing this, ultimately that is where this album slightly falls short of living up to his past work.
On 2015’s Shedding Skin, Ghostpoet transitioned almost completely away from his signature electronic sound to a more instrumentally based sound in a risk that paid off, giving that album a sense of urgency and impact that complemented his lyrics and vocal delivery. On his follow-up, here he is still sticking mostly to that sound with a few detours into earlier territory which ultimately gives the impression he was unsure himself where he wanted to go with this album. Of course since his sound has served him so well in the past, this album is by no means a misfire, it just seems out of character for Ghostpoet to not have a clear musical direction.
Thematically, this album is very bleak, with the main focus being on modern life however most of the political takes are more personal than a statement on world affairs, such as how these things affect his outlook on life more than what these events mean for the actual world itself. This is an interesting way to write about politics and the world around us without ending up having an album just like any other released at the time and this was a good move from Ghostpoet. Despite this it does at times feel as he doesn’t have that much to say this time around, with his lyrics being derivative at times such as his references to tinder “so I swiped left and figured out” that just feel a bit forced. It’s when his lyrics focus more on the feeling of hopelessness in this era that the tracks hit harder. He demonstrates this on tracks such as Immigrant Boogie and Trouble + Me and these tracks are some of the strongest.
Overall there’s not much to hate on this album but there isn’t much to love either. Fans of Ghostpoet will find a lot of enjoyment within this album but it does little to progress himself musically or lyrically and finds him perhaps playing it a bit safe. However his previous material has been so strong the elements of that still present make this album an enjoyable listen, even if it’s a predictable one.