While this may be only the Chicago two-piece Ohmme’s (Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart) second full-length, they have already established a formidable reputation amongst their peers. Tours with the likes of Wilco, Iron & Wine, and Twin Peaks have sealed them as darlings of the indie rock music scene. Their experimental art-rock debut Parts may have flown under the radar commercially, but it was undoubtedly met with a wave of enthusiasm from the music press. So is Fantasize Your Ghost more of the same?
The answer is yes, and no. No, in the sense that this effort feels more accessible and tighter affair than their previous record. While Parts was built on their pure musicianship, Fantasize Your Ghost is built more on rock’n’roll energy. Yes, in a sense, though, as Cunningham and Stewart still freely skip from genre to genre. They shift seamlessly from the discordant noise rock of Selling Candy directly into the infectious synth-rock of Ghosts. Across the album’s scant 39 minutes, we also get snatches of indie rock, folk-rock, and art-rock.
Tonally, there has been a shift in the band’s sound too. For the most part, their debut was a dark and dissonant affair, whereas this is an altogether more upbeat effort. You sense if that record was built for introverted reflection, then this one was made for summer festivals, although it certainly has it spikier moments such as the aforementioned Selling Candy.
Throughout the record, it is clear that Cunningham and Stewart have an enthusiasm for creating stark contrasts. Take, for example, the opener Flood Your Gut. A song built around a sinister, snaking guitar riff but offset by the pair’s mellifluous dreamy vocals. The track is made all the weirder by the falsetto, almost yodelling, vocals of the chorus. As opening gambits go, it is certainly daring. But it pays off beautifully – all of it oddly working even if you are not sure why.
The same could be said for most of the album. The duo barely put a foot wrong here, with the possible exception being instrumental Sturgeon’s Moon. It’s not a terrible track by any stretch. However, there is a feeling of it being experimental for the sake of being experimental, the kind of improvised noodling that is probably more fun to be part of than to listen to.
Fantasize Your Ghost walks a fine line. Clearly, there is an attempt here to appeal to a (slightly) larger audience while also retaining their identity and without having to shave off their weirder edges. It is a line Cunningham and Stewart walk beautifully, and hopefully, it delivers them the cult following they so richly deserve.