Ghost Heart - The Tunnel (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Ghost Heart

The Tunnel (2011)


Ghost Heart's The Tunnel is the second Friction Records release to present itself as a proper full-length in the space of just eight tracks. First it was Bars of Gold and their spastic indie rock/post-hardcore stew, running listeners through loops for just over the course of a half-hour. Ghost Heart are more expansive, though; their albums runs to just over the 40-minute mark, and that's because their familiar brand of indie rock exudes an indelible that's so much so, it might wear on listeners.

Opener "Phantom Harmony" takes a couple minutes to build a languid and subtle arch with fuzzy atmosphere and the sort of top-of-lung but reared-back singing Yeasayer might do less obnoxiously. There's a vague moment of uptick in the energy, and a rhythm in the soft electronic programming that signifies a change. But before one knows it, the band's ushered things into "No Canticle", a steady, tribal drumbeat hit with a sort of emphasis on both celebration and crescendo. It's a cool movement, with brief pauses as it moves along, but it gets a little tiresome as it nears the end of its 7:41 mark, aside from the more intricate drum battle toward said end. By now the band has settled into a pretty recognizable class of modern acts like Grizzly Bear and Deerhunter, though it seems they might not have the hooks or sharpness of delivery to make it consistently engaging.

Can't fault them for lack of effort and nuance, though. "Wilderness" layers distant guitar echoes, both electric and acoustic, and wavering melodies. But in a way it just all feels like a backdrop to an element that's missing. There's a slightly eerie madness to "Salty Sea" that's never quite unleashed as the band seem to really refrain from any explosion they're building amid the lightly melodic ambience that takes out the rest of The Tunnel.

The stupid, easy pun to emphasize how middling The Tunnel is is that, well, we never truly reach a light at the end of it. The band put a different spin on such an idea when they close the album with the refrain, "Search for you 'till the lights go out." But was it ever on to start?