Kestrels- A Ghost History

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Back in 2009, Halifax’s Kestrels burst onto the scene with indie rock that had bursts of pop rock and shoegaze. Since that time the group has upped the shoegaze elements significantly, as their sophomore effort A Ghost History has all of the requisite droning and hazing that is expected from the style. It’s not a mere copy though, and with this expanded inspiration Kestrels has managed to create some engaging material.

When compared to the band’s debut A Ghost History feels more spaced out in both style and structure. The melodies have that familiar shoegaze haze about them, but the instrumentalists have taken time to slow things down and stretch out melodies more than they have in the past. This allows the music to really expand and find its sweet spot, giving Kestrels some additional depth that they were missing before. But rather than going purely for shoegaze like so many other bands, the group has maintained some of their indie and pop rock roots and offer tracks that explode out of the gate with faster tempos and direct hooks. It’s a mix that works well, and the entire sound of A Ghost History often has a distinctively 90s feel to it which I personally found to be quite appealing. Admittedly this is a forward stacked album, as some of the later tracks don’t quite reach the same level of catchiness as the earlier ones but this doesn’t diminish the overall impact.

Vocalist Chad Peck has the right kind of singing style for an album of this type, as he has a fairly soft and mellow voice that drifts along with the instrumentals. The vocals are at their best when they are drenched in reverb and given the chance to blend in with the guitar melodies, as the two complement each other nicely. When the focus is given back to Peck he still does an admirable job, although there are a few songs where his singing gets slightly out of sync and loses too much energy. This doesn’t happen often enough to become a major issue, but it did jump out at me during the time I spent listening to the album.

In the time that has passed since their debut Kestrels has mellowed out a bit and headed more towards dreamy melodies than the direct pop hooks of their debut. While it may be a different direction, it works and the band is able to ensure that they still have plenty of memorable moments to offer listeners. A Ghost Story may not consistently have the same level of catchy guitar hooks from start to finish, but the songs that nail it make this disc worth diving into.

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