Ghost Wave – Radio Norfolk
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Auckland duo Ghost Wave follow up their 2013 debut with Radio Norfolk, a pleasantly spacy throwback to the college rock heyday of the late '80s and the Kiwi pop forebears who turned their label, Flying Nun, into an internationally appreciated commodity. An outgrowth of their jangly first album, Radio Norfolk thumbs a ride through next-level territories of droning Krautrock, shoegazing psychedelia, and whacked-out dub, focusing less on guitar jams and more on sample-heavy, effects-laden psych-pop. Members Matt Paul and Eammon Logan have an easy manner with this type of layered style, dialing up weird shimmering grooves on "Blues Signal '79" or bright, blissed-out vocal stacks on "Julia Knows," another standout cut. "Spaceman," a seven-minute exercise in textural drone-rock, nods to another big influence in U.K. heroes Spacemen 3. In fact, founding Spaceman Peter Kember -- aka Sonic Boom -- jumped on board to master the album. More so than on their debut, the British influence looms large, with a distinct Madchester vibe saturating many of the songs in both spirit and tone. Amid the more atmospheric work, there is still some of the Stone Roses jangle and Happy Mondays sunniness of their earlier releases. Elsewhere, the trippy synth work on "All U Do Is Kill" feels like it could have come from a Thighpaulsandra-era Julian Cope album, bringing both the psych and Krautrock elements back to the fore. As songwriters, Ghost Wave generally opt for cool detachment over emotional engagement, and Radio Norfolk thusly plays out as a pastiche of their moods and influences. The vocals are largely buried under heaps of reverb and the hooks are less defined than on earlier releases. Still, their freewheeling nature and the vibrancy of their palette make it work.