Sometimes intensely self-confessional albums can be just too much: too self obsessed, too introspective and too miserable to actually make a good listen.
But every so often along comes an album that works on many levels – great songs, great tunes and great lyrics; now you can add John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts to that list. He has suffered from agoraphobia, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, parental abuse and most recently being diagnosed as HIV positive and yet he still manages to write lyrics that are heartfelt and yet also wry and humourous.
His first album, Queen of Denmark (2010), recorded with Midlake at their studio was a very 70’s infused work, referencing Elton John, Jackson Browne and other more obscure soft rock artists. On its release it picked up many prestigious awards, including Mojo Album of The Year. But for this album musically he has completely changed styles: Grant moved to Iceland and, through the use of contemporary electronics and a sympathetic producer in Birgir Thórarinsson of Gus Gus , has made a timeless sounding piece of work: very now, but heavily rooted in classic songwriting. Throw in backing vocals from Sinead O’Connor and you have a pice of music that works on many levels, and one of those rare albums that bears repeated listens.
Nigel House, Co-founder, Rough Trade record shops