Single: Ghost Fan Club – Shoulders

Florida’s Tyler Costolo is set to return in July with a self-titled e.p under the Ghost Fan Club handle, the first single of which is the introspective and emotive Shoulders, a curious collision of stylistic mannerisms that reflect the emotional complexity of its subject matter.

Released on 3rd of May, there’s a delicious meshing of genres found within its 4 minutes 17 seconds, from indie-folk to a sort of self-lacerating bedroom-emo, bolstered by the newly added drum work of Swim Camper, Tom Morris. Emotive and lo-fi in production, it begins with an embittered acoustic strum and chord progression which echoes Needle in the Hay but only for a few moments before it then goes full Once Upon a Time in (small town) America with its sliding, tremulous guitar cinematics and Morricone atmospheres.

The vocals, when they come, are deadpan but rich in pathos – ruminating on grief and the relentlessness of lost time. There is a darkness to the song’s intent whose structures seem deliberately full of breaks that pause and interrupt the song’s flow. The driving rhythm, when it does kick in, feels like a release but it’s only transitory as the pulse is so continuously fractured. As such, the mass of over-laying vocals that arrive unexpectedly, feel almost like intrusive thoughts, claustrophobic and troubling. Indeed, Shoulders perhaps resembles a collage of many songs, reflecting in their disjointed juxtaposition, the splintered shards and facets of the depression-broken brain. This cognitive fug is emphasised further by the novocaine haze that envelops the repetitive vocal refrains at the song’s heart. This combination has real potency and is entirely captivating.

The melody of the chorus breaks the relentlessness of proceedings and provides the soul with soothing respite with its gentle, exposed beauty. Even this though, feels disturbed at times and is indeed disturbing in detail. The lyric, “I tried to kill myself before even being born/My shoulders are weak and fragile/how will I lift my world” feels both cryptic and strangely, unambiguously open, the influence of Daniel Johnston can be felt here; it’s also the moment when the disparate, torn shreds of melody, manifest magically as one.

There is a broken beauty and curious magic to Shoulders that you can’t help but be drawn into. The full e.p when it arrives in July is sure to be something well worth diving headlong into.

M.A Welsh (Misophone)