Whereas today’s alt club dance floors now pack out to the likes of A Day To Remember or Bury Tomorrow, there used to be a time when the floor-fillers came from Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish or even the homegrown [spunge]. Though these bands still tour to this day, revelling in the nostalgia, the younger generation seem to have all but forgotten the sound of horns. However, perhaps it’s time for the trumpets to sound again and, if so, London’s Ghouls are on the front line blowing them.
Their debut album, ‘Ten Thousand Words On’, is a fast-paced, jaunty affair and is as catchy as it is chaotic. Opening with the 36 second track, ‘Letters’, the band are clearly taking no prisoners. With an assault of fast punk drums, acoustic and electric guitars, melodic vocals that are spat out rather than sang and, of course, the brass section, they set the tone for the rest of the album.
People more familiar with the genre will probably hear shades of ska-punk stalwarts such as RX Bandits and The Mad Caddies in these first couple of tracks, and also in some of the later cuts such as ‘The Beautiful Game’ and ‘Dive In’. But, the band are self-proclaimed “Gypsy Punks” and there are clear nods to everyone’s favourite gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello on the likes of ‘A Note Of Advice’ and ‘London’s Burning’.
Though the majority of the album is a short, sharp assault of ska-punk and does the job, either as an introduction for the younger crowd to the genre, or as love letter to it for the older generation, there are a couple of misfires, and they in fact come from when the band try to dabble with a more commercial sound. Both ‘Oceans’ and ‘Night Creatures’ seem to water down the band’s sound, in what you can only assume is an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. The same, however, can’t be said for ‘Quit While You’re Ahead’ though, the acoustic ballad on the album, and a welcome moment of calm.
‘Ten Thousand Words On’ is at first a jarring listen, simply because there aren’t as many new bands out there making this type of music. The truth is, although ska-punk has never gone away, it has grown stale, become more irrelevant and less appealing in the modern music scene. Ghouls have decided to pull it from the doldrums and, although they perhaps haven’t strived to innovate it too much, you can hear the love that has gone into making the music. Hopefully, as they make a name for themselves on the live circuit, more people will see there’s still life in the old brass section yet.
Written by Dom Webber