Former Ghosts are a collaboration between Freddy Ruppert (previously of This Song Is A Mess But So Am I), Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) and Nika Roza (Zola Jesus), and their debut album Fleurs does indeed sound like what one would expect from such a collaboration; emotive and introspective songwriting with an aesthetic that blends synthpop sensibilities with industrial influences.
What is perhaps most striking about the album is the consistant balance between beauty and ugliness/tenderness and violence that characterizes not only the lyrical content but the sound of the album as well. The title, the French word for 'flowers', is foremoest suggestive of affection and romance yet flowers can also signify death and mourning, and while the majority of the songs here are overtly about love and desire there is an undercurrent of sadness and nostalgia throughout. On album opener 'Us And Now,' as well as the title track, Ruppert expresses feelings of extreme happiness and yearning, while acknowledging the transience of human emotion and, ultimately, life itself, singing "if I could stretch out these moments/I would make them last a lifetime." He exhibits a clear talent for mining romance from melancholia, following a statement such as "it is ok/everything dies" by having Roza sing "who will love you like I do?"; the cathartic elements of the music shine through the darkest depths of despair.
The reverb-soaked and distorted vocals are accompanied by equally reverb-soaked and distorted synths, at times sounding like hissing power tools or bleeping dialysis machines, pounding bass drums and all manner of clicks and crackling sounds. Nonetheless, the harsh timbre and texture of the instrumentation and production is offset by the strong and gorgeous melodies. Roza's voice lends the album a feminine touch, soaring high above the mix with an intense passion on the tracks where she takes lead vocal duty.
Fleurs offers a collection of dense and unconventional love songs that mix celebratory and rousing sentiment with existential awareness to potent results; easy to recommend to anyone who appreciates emotionally charged music with a twist.
Former Ghosts on Myspace