John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts

Heartache and hilarity in equal measure

Pale Green Ghosts

The elegance, grandeur and theatricality of Grant’s 2010 solo debut Queen Of Denmark won him many fans – some of whom began vociferously campaigning for him to be given a crack at recording a 007 theme, such was the dramatic atmosphere of his songs. He may still get the gig, should his profile and appeal continue to broaden at the rate it is, but in the meantime he continues to brandish a license to thrill.

Much of Pale Green Ghosts will please listeners who fell for the previous album, Grant again indulging in lopsided views of tortured romance (GMF is the love song of the year, but it would be a spoiler to reveal what the initials stand for), couched in seductive and celebratory melodies. Where the record veers from its predecessor is in Grant’s occasional forays into synth-driven minimalism, most effectively on the ode to loneliness You Don’t Have To and the title track’s clipped rhythms and shades of Prince’s Sign “O” The Times.

The disarming and self-mocking humour remains a constant, put to greatest use on the cod rap of Sensitive New Age Guy and Ernest Borgnine, the latter wondering if the gruff Oscar-winning character actor might have some advice for forlorn lovers. An album of endless revelations, its dry wit and dreamy tunes suggest a mash-up between Pet Shop Boys and Jimmy Webb.  

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Bella Union | BELLAV 377

Reviewed by Terry Staunton
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