Bolton natives Cherry Ghost are back after four years to deliver their third album Herd Runners. The band remain stylistically unchanged from their first two efforts with the same pleasant and melodic chamber pop vibes which occasionally produce beauty, but all too often stray into the drab.
While the band’s classical influences inject a level of complexity into their sound, overall they are still very much a pop outfit. The twee nature of a lot of baroque pop strikes instantly on album opener ‘Clear Skies Ever Closer’. The clichéd lyrics found in the irritatingly strained vocals combined with the almost synthetically uplifting mood gives the entire composition an overly sweet feel.
However the problem of a plastic pop exposure doesn’t last the entire album, track ‘Sacramento’ proves this fairly quickly. The guitars on this track really sing, and the light background synths in certain parts add to the more unique sound. The vocals begin to sound less forced too, with Simon Aldred laying down some elegant choruses coupled perfectly with the stabbing piano in the song. The lyrics hit much less clichéd and much more poetically here as tales of patient love are scintillatingly realised.
Some of the more stripped down tracks such as ‘Drinking For Two’ manage to regain the same sense of authenticity, but the entire album unfortunately does not. Too many times they slip back into the slightly irritating pop mode which they more than occasionally prove they are better than, making it all the more frustrating. For instance in ‘My Lover Lies Under’ the lyrics speak of “city lights” and “bluer skies” as dramatic strings whimper, it feels like something I’ve heard too many times before and didn’t like in the first place.
While there are some truly exquisite and beautiful songs here the same things are rehashed all too often. If only the heart warmingly genuine lyrics and wonderful classically influenced instrumentation could have been sustained throughout the full album.
Reviewer: Leo Lumley