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The Ghost of the Forest 

My Time to Die

My Time to Die opens with two tracks of rough-hewn, basement-recorded nonsense: a recitation of the Christian prayer "Our Father," followed by "The Hymnal," an ode to the Holy Ghost led by a shambling choir and a wheezy transistor organ. It's unclear whether these tracks are in place to call forth divine intervention or to recreate the energy of a grade-school Bible camp, but a similar giddy (if secular) energy runs through the Ghost of the Forest's second album. These songs are full of handclaps, wordless choruses, teenage ambition and enough good cheer for one to assume that there is a group hug before every Ghost of the Forest show. What's more, the band members record under aliases (Bear, Wolf, The Moon), which would normally be enough to give you a free pass for hating this band. Luckily, there is enough solid song craft on these twelve tracks to warrant a closer listen.

The seven-piece band bolsters the guitar/bass/drums formula with plenty of piano and synth sounds, giving an alternately earthy and spectral tone to these songs. "Angels" features a fleet-fingered piano breakdown that wouldn't be out of place as a break-beat sample, and "A Ghost in Love" ends its twinkly reverie with a simple, effective coda of voices and trumpet. Like Bad Company, Belle & Sebastian and New Kids on the Block before them, My Time to Die includes a song named after themselves; "The Ghost of the Forest" mixes a bit of herky-jerky punk energy while staying under the sway of rolling drums and a chunky, low-end piano figure. Like the band itself, it's a nice mix of form and freedom, with the strictures of a pop song allowing for moments of near liftoff.

— Christian Schaeffer

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o The Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail for more information.

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