London quintet Ghouls are something to be excited about. Last year saw the band release their debut album Ten Thousand Words On, a record we weren’t alone in championing, and at the start of this week they proved themselves hype-worthy once again. Their latest offering is a follow on from the band’s October EP, Great Expectations, now bumped up to seven tracks and reissued as a mini-album. As well as having the fan support of Frank Turner, the ska pop-punkers have previously supported the likes of Professor Green and Slaves, and after playing 2000 Trees Festival last weekend, it would seem their snowball of success is only set to grow this summer.
Any fan of the band will hear the opening riffs of the title track which commences the release and know they’re in for a seven track merge of their much-loved debut with a bolder, rockier edge. As horns wind themselves into the sound and the intro continues to deservedly make a big deal of itself, the fun and boisterous instrumental stands up against the harshly flippant and deadpan lyricism. Massive hook, “sorry for being sorry / I never really meant it / Just didn’t want to argue”, is a perfect example of how well the band can pen a catchy, honest line.
Two and a half minute blast Nice To Know You is another infectious tune, the snappy, tight lyrics delivered over their signature sax and trombone fueled melodies. Quirky Gone Fishing boasts an empire! empire! i was a lonely estate-esque story telling quality to it, a nostalgic and buoyantly optimistic number that’s easy to get lost in. Another joyful track concludes the original EP, with Being Me showcasing the alt-rock side of the band with a gang vocal refrain to make live shows go wild.
More panicked and manic, despite the worst case scenarios vocalist Benedict Goold paints in Better And Then Some, there’s a blossoming sense of romanticism in the lyrics of this next rockier track. Not just lyrically but also in the stronger riffs, Abandon Ship holds similarities to Lower Than Atlantis’ Deadliest Catch, a sign of the more pop-punk-rock slant that Ghouls take on this offering. Closing on an acoustic number with Acting Adult, the Rob Lynch-esque heart-on-sleeve peak of the mini-album and probable fan favourite, the work winds down in a cliched manner, but with too much lyrical integrity for it to be seen as a bonus track.
Ghouls are setting themselves up as an band that can do no wrong, with Great Expectations II managing to top the excellence of their debut album. With a rare sparkle and energy to every track, it’s clear that the release is the product of extensive time and dedication. A*, 10/10, full marks, however you want to say it, this is hands down the best release I’ve heard all year.
You can stream the whole mini-album via BandCamp below.