OK, make way, make way, album of the year coming through! Mind your backs now!
London-based, trans-European quartet, Ghost Car’s debut long player finally sees the light of day today. Its birthing has been a somewhat fractious process but one listen to Truly Trash is enough to demonstrate that the long wait has been well worth it. Clocking it at thirty-four minutes, the album’s eleven tracks are full of raw, crunchy guitars, other-worldly keyboards, frenetic drums and gloriously unhinged vocals, producing a delicious mélange of new wave and riot grrrl with a sprinkling of the classic ’60s girl group sound on top.
Rewind back to 2020 and things were looking rather less rosy in the Ghost Car garden. Original vocalist/bassist, Maria Paton, had decided to return to her native Spain in the wake of the UK’s post-EU referendum hostile environment. Their hotly-anticipated appearance at SXSW in Austin, TX was cancelled with just days to go as COVID-19 hit Europe and made its way across the Atlantic, forcing the festival organisers to call off the event. Then the band pulled the scheduled release of Truly Trash (v1) when their label at the time, Burger Records, were accused of presiding over a culture of sexual assault, both at its gigs and amongst its roster of artists.
Step forward new vocalist/bassist, Ceci Corapi (Qlowski), and new label, One Little Independent (The Sugarcubes, The Shamen, Ultrasound, Queenadreena), and Truly Trash has at long last achieved escape velocity.
The album is straight out of the blocks with “Terrible Feelings”, the first of Truly Trash’s six brand new songs written since Ceci joined the GC ranks at the end of 2020. Laura Hart’s drums kick-start proceedings and an early-‘80s new wave vibe – reminiscent here of OMD’s “Maid of Orleans” – is immediately evident, setting the tone for what’s to come.
Recent single, “Selfish, Spoiled”, follows with its insistent “Will you ever open your eyes?” refrain, before long-term live favourite, “Mechanical Soul”, commands you to “Deal with it!”
“Basta” is the first of two tracks that see guitarist Maeve Henry assuming lead vocal duties, a role that she took on live in the build-up to the aborted SXSW trip – a period which saw her on-stage confidence visibly grow.
In “Embleton Road”, Clara Bleda’s keyboards conjure images of Scooby-Doo sniffing out a mystery – perfect for the album’s release during Hallowe’en week – before the song scampers to a close with creepy disembodied vocals.
“Clown Town” brings the depressing news that “All my friends are leaving this town” (a possible post-Brexit commentary?) but coats the pill in typically upbeat fashion with a belting chorus.
A trilogy of recent singles – “Sex” (featuring Maeve on lead vocals), “Conch Pearl” and “Sushi Addict” – precedes the somewhat surprising inclusion of probably the oldest song on the album, “No History”, the original version of which appeared as the B-side on 2017’s “Woman In The Shadows” 7”.
The album’s final song is the title track (and my personal current favourite), “Truly Trash”, which commences with Maeve’s guitar channelling 1983-era The Sisters Of Mercy before morphing into an entirely different sounding beast and concluding with a spooky theremin work-out, courtesy of Clara.
“This album is our way to express what bothers us, from personal interactions to international politics. We wanted to explore different themes in a simple way so that they could be accessible to everyone.” So say the band, and the fact that they successfully manage to do this whilst still having room for incessantly catchy choruses and call-and-response gang vocals and, to be quite frank, rocking the fuck out is a testament to both their musicianship and lyrical prowess.
The only criticism I have about this hugely impressive debut album is its failure to include 2019’s wonderful duo of digital-only singles, “Awkward” and “Virginia & Vita”, but this just serves to further illustrate the quality of Ghost Car’s songwriting palette.
Truly Trash? Truly awesome.
Ghost Car play the following shows:
24th November – The Lexington, London (album launch show)
9th December – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
Review by Mark Dans L’Espace @mark_danslespace
Album artwork credit: Raissa Pardini
Photo credit: Patrick Smith