At the intersection of the old standard rock sound (The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Dylan) and some new revivalists (Foo Fighters, The Strokes) sits Ghost Wave. Rather unfortunately, this is not a compliment. In retreading so many sounds and trying to weave them into a new thread, the New Zealand outfit has found themselves outside of their depth. The result is Ages, an album that doesn’t provide much cause to revisit.
It’s not necessarily that the songs sound bad. It’s more that there’s no nuance to them. They all seem to have the same tempo, balance, and structure. The vocals are vague and rambling, which ultimately render them forgettable. The riffs aren’t particularly imaginative, but are played to the point of exhaustion. Ghost Wave has found a sound that they like and are going to ride or die with it. If only there was a little more riding to be done.
The lead track “Horsemouth” sets a listener up with some hope. The jangling guitar riff followed by driving tambourine lead one to believe there will be some direction and momentum to the record. But it is followed up by “I Don’t Mind,” which starts the parade of generic rock stagnation. By the time you reach “Bootlegs,” you’ll wonder if the repeat button isn’t on.
It’s also difficult to delve into any meaning because of the aforementioned vocals. Lodged somewhere between Bob Dylan and Lou Reed is the voice of the lead singer. Again, this would seem like praise, but without any real character in the performance, it’s a gilded imitation. It makes one wonder if this is why the vocals were mixed so faintly next to all the other instruments.
It’s hard to say that anyone will hate Ages. It’s safer to bet that they won’t remember it long enough to feel much of anything.