Have you ever heard the first ten seconds of a song and immediately thought, “Who is this?” That’s how I felt about Ghost Wave, the two-piece psych-rock group from Auckland, New Zealand.
After teasing listeners with four singles since last year, the duo — Matt Paul on lead vocals and guitar and Eammon Logan on drums — has just released their sophomore album, Radio Norfolk.
Ghost Wave Delivers Ten Timeless Tracks
Throughout the entire record, Ghost Wave manipulates trippy guitars, fuzzy synths, and old timey tambourine-laden percussion to create soundscapes that are simultaneously nostalgic and modern.
The album’s opening track and most recent single, “Honey Punch,” features a bass and key driven melody introducing the song and reverberating throughout each chorus. Paul’s hazy layered vocals remind me of fellow band from Down Under, Tame Impala, while the organs and drawn out instrumentals revive the psych-rock sounds of The Doors, The Mamas & the Papas, and The Zombies.
At first I thought these ’60s summer sounds might be unique to the first track, but the vibe carries over just the same in the second song, “Who’s Doin The Talkin.” The band’s arrangements are simple — never trying to flaunt their talent — but always steadily delivering an effortless idyllic feel through fuzzy vocals, relaxed rhythm guitars, and extended instrumental bridges.
The record’s third single, “All U Do Is Kill” comes with a music video to visually present the same nostalgia heard throughout the album. “The Story of Sunny Crypt,” as the video is also known, is a psychedelic dream, depicting a purple skateboarding skeleton, kaleidoscopic flows, faded film footage, and dark graphics evocative of early arcade games like Pac-Man or Atari Asteroids.
The band quickens the pace to more of an ’80s new wave feel towards the end of the album on “Snow Cone Descent.” Here, I also noticed Paul’s voice begin sounding a bit like a twanging Tom Petty with heavier feedback.
They slow the tempo down again to finish the last two tracks, “If It Were Up To Me” and “Playin Lines” — each over seven minutes long. The drawling bass and tambourine, lengthy instrumentals, and steadily charging organs bring back the sounds of the ’60s while simultaneously pulling out a ’90s Brian Jonestown Massacre feel.
Radio Norfolk is a clash of dazed instrumentation and echoing vocals that will captivate listeners for all ten tracks. The duo has curated not just a signature sound, but an entire atmosphere and mood all their own.