Sometimes things just need more time. A debut is a band’s chance to make an impression and lay groundwork for their future. We Have Ghosts’ debut, like any other band’s, is an exciting find. But not all of them hit the nail on the head with their first swing.
The EP’s opening-track “Gimme a Moment” bounces back-and-forth between a few chords before a screaming vocal busts in to disrupt the flow. Bryan Patrick’s vocals are uncomfortably high and don’t accomplish what they set out to. His voice bends to try and crack but does so unappealingly. It’s a rare characteristic a vocalist can pull off and even those who do it well (Alec Ounsworth comes to mind), they struggle to consistently keep it from becoming a gimmick. Patrick isn’t able to keep it away from the line of comical almost two minutes into the opening track when the frontman scoffs in an unconvincing manner, “Ugh, I’m at a loss.”
From there, the track takes an unnecessary turn toward a slower tempo and change in guitar tone. It’s hard enough to pull off a band with just one guitar and drums. It’s an honorable thing to expose a band to its core, but when it’s not done right, it sounds as naked as it is. But it’s not the fact that the band strips itself down to a pair of instruments that leads their sound to fall short, it’s the comfort behind its recording. Patrick’s vocals again draw your attention away from the songwriting when he gives a half-assed “Woo!” at the end of “Gimme a Moment.” The vocalist sounds uncomfortable and nearly embarrassed to open his mouth – a fear most singer-songwriters grow out of after some time in front of crowds.
The two other tracks show the potential We Have Ghosts has. “I’m Getting By” has a great riff and simple, yet enticing guitar work. But the transitions in its recording are spotty, choppy, and lack a sensible flow. You follow along with the track, but then it skips along to a new portion of the song.
“Lucy Annabelle” is the best performance the band has on its self-titled debut. The track makes sense and climaxes at an appropriate time. The aggressive vocals are fitting for the moment they come in, with a complementing dynamic from the instruments building around it. Again, around three and a half minutes into the track, the band struggles to change tempos. The song slows and Thomas Puglisi’s drumming gets out of time. The song slows and then builds in dynamic again, just to fade out without any reappearance of the vocals. The song should have been cut at the three and a half minute mark, but lingers on for close to two extra minutes – a feature that made the final cut most likely from the songs being written out of a live setting.
Patience would have helped this EP get off the ground, but the lack of it resulted in obvious recording mistakes and a missed opportunity to capitalize on a pair of well-written tracks on the album’s back half.