GIRLS AGAINST BOYS: THE GHOST LIST
Coming some eleven years after their last proper album, The Ghost List marks the return of New York City’s proprietors of cool, Girls Against Boys. When last we heard of GVSB they had issued their one and only release for Jade Tree Records entitled You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See, and though the album was a welcome return to form following the disappointment of their one and only release for Geffen Records, Freak*On*Ica, the band were playing to diminishing returns and there was a general feeling that it was time to take a prolonged hiatus. In the intervening years there have been numerous European club and festival performances and a handful of American shows, including the Touch & Go Records 25th Anniversary event, but Girls Against Boys as a studio entity has remained dormant since 2002.
What makes The Ghost List so exciting is that it sounds as though the band never went anywhere and that after eleven years Girls Against Boys still wants to sound like Girls Against Boys. The five songs that comprise the EP would not have sounded out of place on You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See or maybe even the Touch & Go Records classic House of GVSB. The band rose to prominence during the glory days of grunge but their sound was more akin to Joy Division and The Fall then anything that came from Seattle with flannel on its back. The Girls Against Boys template was, and still is, a heavy distorted bottom end mixed with the sleazy speak/sing delivery of frontman Scott McCloud.
The Ep’s opener “It’s a Diamond Life” has that familiar menacing bass line, courtesy of the four string slinger Johnny Temple, which seems to be itching for a fight but eventually gives way to a chorus of “woo hoos” and it’s the first true indication that GVSB are truly back in business.
The psycho-billy freakout that is “Fade Out” sees the band exploring a more country/punk side as opposed to their tried and true formula of being the house band in a Times Square peeler bar. Alexis Fleisig’s drums keep a four on the floor pace, while McCloud rambles on about how he is going “to faze you out”.
“Kick” is the 2013 incarnation of Cruise Yourself’s “Glazed Eye”, with its quietly pulsating beat that seems liable to explode at any minute. In fact, The Ghost List is distinctly reminiscent of the last EP that GVSB released in 1996: Disco Six Six Six. Both have tones and textures that go together and both feature five songs of such quality that any GVSB LP would be happy to house them.
The Ghost List ranks as an unqualified success because it reestablishes the unique sound of Girls Against Boys and it makes us long for a full length follow up. We eagerly await more new music from this fantastic band.
- Johnny Hooper