“Once again, the happy pills ain’t doing shit.”
You’re not kidding, mate. Even by Ghostpoet’s own lugubrious standards, I Grow Tired… is downbeat. Little light shines through the dense, half-sung lyrics and heavy-laden bass and beats. That line (from Humana Second Hand) is the least of it. We’re greeted with the dismal conjugation of Breaking Cover: “I wanna die, you wanna die, we wanna die, they wanna die.” “Pillow soft inside my grave,” he muses on When Mouths Collide, contemplating an ending relationship. By the end of the album (Social Lacerations), he’s become a corpse: “Pick at my bones, I won’t need them neither / Selfie away, make sure you use all the filters / Crawl over me, crawl over me.”
Gloom is no bad thing, though, when done well, and I Grow Tired… is a fine study in misery. Concrete Pony in particular is spendidly morose – low-energy vocals like a deflating balloon, strings keening on the chorus like a mourning cow, as ennui reigns: “How can I measure my life? Oh yeah, oh yeah / Emails and digital likes, oh yeah oh yeah.”
And while that represents standard introspection, mainly the source of his grief is external. The album paints a familiar, unpleasant picture of Britain in 2020: “This place just ain’t a paradise to me… You’re giddy in hate” (Black Dog Got Silver Eyes), “Far right on the jukebox / Hi-vis in bright as day” (Rats In A Sack), “Tyranny on a micro scale / can we let it go?” (This Train Wreck Of A Life)
The backing comes in suitably sombre hues – minor key piano, chugging bass, flat drums – an industrial sound, and there’s often something else nicely souring the mix – what sounds like a malfunctioning 80s arcade game on Black Dog Got Silver Eyes, horror film strings on This Train Wreck Of A Life – or, on rare occasions, providing prettification – birdsong on When Mouths Collide, twinkly guitars on Social Lacerations. Nowhere To Hide Now opens with sounds like machinery wailing in an empty warehouse, before revealing itself to be the most anthemic song on the album, climaxing with an uncharacteristically spirited, “I’ll be damned if I let you get away with it”.
Misery worth wallowing in.