Greetings From The Beloved Ghosts – Sticky Memories

With his Oblique Strategies Cards, Brian Eno, along with Peter Schmidt laid out over a hundred solutions to creative conundrums. In this deck of cards was the phrase “Honor they error as a hidden intention”. The band Greetings From The Beloved Ghosts have loaded their DIY punk/pop album Sticky Memories with hidden intentions, and it’s a thing of wonder.

As individuals, Greetings From The Beloved Ghosts go by the more-simple names Pete and Margot. They come from Clermont-Ferrand, a city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. It’s a nice place, you should avoid Paris, and go there some time. The fact that this French duo sing in English, rather than in their native tongue, speaks to their influences, and perhaps to their aspiration. The fact that Greetings From The Beloved Ghosts reside outside of Paris, also speaks to their roots. They avoid the homogenizing effects of the capital.

Sticky Memories is an album that pulls together the affection that Pete and Margot hold for an array of hand-held instruments. Omnichords, Xylophones, and a bassoon all feature. But so do the classic sounds of cheap electric guitars, and cheesy keyboards with straight-from-the-box rhythm sequences. For fans of DIY music, who perhaps just spoffed some cash on the Moldy Peaches’ reissued debut album, Sticky Memories is an album that knows where it will sit in the emotional stack of its audience.

The themes of this album are broad, and often beautiful. The intimacy of the home-recording adds to the gravity of emotions. On “Boys are B” hearts are mentioned many times. At one beat the heart is described as desperate, at another beat is described as longing. Later, it is more scientifically defined as a ‘fucking muscle’. The forthright honesty that pours flesh into metaphysics is brilliant.

Later in the progression, “Back” is a break-down track. Clumsy acoustic guitar and a childlike xylophone furnish a set of lyrics that will dismantle even the hardest fucking muscle. This song, which has the audacity to start with a line about “Waking up….”  speaks directly to the whereabouts of a returning lover. “I feel weary, thinking of the things we used to do.” So much of what happens here happens in the hearts, minds, and living rooms of the band. There are political and spiritual elements, but the real point is the ‘here and now’ of being human, imperfect, but trying.

In the murkier aspects of the sequence, through passages of loss, confusion, and all of that, there is a tangible sense of joy. The esoteric practice of ‘joy-pain’ is delivered in spades. There’s nothing of the melodic progression, chord structures, or tone of old blues or gospel, but here in the pain is an incredible sense of relief and release. At least we have the ability to sing, to vent, and to commune with one another. We are invited into this intimacy, and the rewards for listening are not small.

Greetings From The Beloved Ghosts are clearly interested in the improvements they can make to circumstances, and to themselves. These Sticky Memories are shared, not with apology, but with a fondness for times when the band were less perfectly formed. If no apologies are issued there are also very few celebrations in light of the flaws. Here is a band that invites attention, and then checks itself before it wrecks itself.

It’s the honoring of their errors, both in performance, and in behaviors, that make Greetings From The Beloved Ghosts such an engaging band, and Sticky Memories such an intriguing album. The undulations in vocal work, and the glitchy beats, all add up to a unique and unforced style that celebrates life, but not too much, and eulogizes pain, but not too much.



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