When I uploaded World’s Greatest Ghosts’ new album, No Magic, into my iTunes, its genre automatically came up as “Alternative & Punk.” Who knows why Apple does this for artists that couldn’t be further from the label, but Andrew Bird, Captain Beefheart, Fleet Foxes and Glenn Kotche have all received this misnomer. To my surprise, World’s Greatest Ghosts aren’t out of place this time.
No Magic is a refreshing return to raucousness. It’s indie-spazz rock in rapid-fire common time. The upbeat, energetic rhythms are made for dancing with your arms flailing wildly like Elwood Blues doing the “running man”. Sing-along melodies standout from start to finish, and you can just picture a guy doing a handstand on a Moog while the guitarist repeatedly scissor kicks. Reggie and the Full Effect will be jealous of the warm, playful synths on tracks like “Mazes and Monsters,” “The Royal Court” and “On the Shore”.
Journey-ed rock-outs prove that WGG has a lot of musical ideas. No Magic is an album for anyone who just wants music to be fun again. The lyrics are occasionally cringe-worthy (“Can you show me a way/A way to wake up/ It’s time for me to wake up/We’re on a mission/To find our way/Out of these nightmares”) and the melodies are overly sugary, but it’s all too sincere to refuse.
The Magic themes are prominent throughout the album and an apt compliment to the wildly spastic twists and turns from one harmonized guitar riff to the next. It’s like the musical version of playing the Legend of Zelda for the NES and occasionally finding secret levels in the next screen over. There are a lot of surprises on No Magic, none of which are unpleasant. The vocal/guitar duo breakdown near the album’s end comes out of nowhere, but kicks the energy up to a level that can only be reached in the poppiest moments of punk rock.
Coming in at just over a half hour, the album is over too soon. The nine tracks blaze by like a fire-breathing dragon dousing the countryside, villages aflame. But it’s just as easy to put it on again for a second ride. Or, even better, this is an album that beckons its listener to come out to a WGG show. I’d expect full LARPer garb from these kids.