On first listen, one may not be able to keep down the sugary meal that Ghost Beach serves the listener, but sometimes you just need to embrace all 12 of their syrup drizzled tracks. Whether or not you can adjust your mood to one of pure unfiltered joy is up to you, but Blonde is 12 desserts each tinged with a different facet of pop and electronic music.
The Brooklyn based band consists of 2 guys, Josh Ocean (what a coincidence) and Eric Mendelsohn, and the origins of the name Ghost Beach come from a Goosebumps children’s novel. And to a certain extent, Ghost Beach is a fitting name for this band, with all the shiny, bright, and colorful instrumentation with Josh Ocean delivering his falsetto vocals over everything. A lot of reviewers and even the band themselves are calling their sound “tropical grit-pop”, which although it is ridiculous it fits with their sound and their name.
However, the music itself is almost impeccably constructed into a diverse yet cohesive pop album, a la Passion Pit’s Gossamer or more recently Haim’s Days Are Gone. It’s obvious from the get go that Ghost Beach is heavily influenced by 80’s pop and rock music. The first track “Moon over Japan” is a full on sundae with all the toppings in a warm synth flavored waffle bowl. The song starts out with a massive sounding synth melody which leads into the core of the song (soft serve ice cream if you will) which is the infectious vocal ballads of Mr. Ocean. Secondly, the warm and tropical percussion which in the sundae metaphor would be a mix of pineapple and chocolate sauces which add flavor and color to an already bold and bombastic song. Next are the peanuts and strawberries which compliment every other bite and these toppings representing the guitar pickups and the crunchy synth grooves complimenting Joshes vocals? However, the cherry on top is the bass interlude half way through the song which gives way to the first bite of this glorious sundae. All metaphor aside, this opening song is the most contagious pop song of 2014 so far.
The rest of Blonde features big synth jams, chill tropical pop vibes, and energetic synth bangers. My second favorite track is Been There Before which starts out with a golden and summery sounding synth groove and like most songs simply transitions into delightful verses, catchy hooks, and bright instrumentation. From the sporadic bass pickups, to the harmonious guitar lines that remind me of the 80’s, and even to the rhythm guitar underneath everything is reminiscent to any 80’s hit song. Miracle is the lead single of the album and obviously is one of the most poppy songs on here. It has a noticeable beach rock vibe to it with the classic sounding guitar rift leading the song forward, but the entire song just felt too casual to me. I definitely enjoy listening to it if it’s a song that comes up because of shuffle, but I won’t go out of my way to listen to this track. However, save these three songs, everything else is just ok, nothing to call home about. The other 9 tracks are your funfetti cakes, chocolate chip cookies, vanilla wafers, great tasting and sweet, but ordinary and in retrospect, predictable.
I fully recommend this album to lovers of pop music and to connoisseur of synth jams, but if you are not willing to snort pixie sticks, this album may not be for you. Don’t snort pixie sticks.
Reviewed by: Thomas Orlando