With members hailing from Portugal, Canada and Sweden, Lusitanian Ghosts is a band which has become a fascinating proposition this year through a trio of singles and an indie/alternative rock/pop sound which have seen the Alternative Folk-Rock outfit embracing the certain qualities of traditional Portuguese instruments. Now they have just released their second album, Exotic Quixotic, an encounter showing that the promise of those earlier songs had much more to reveal.
Consisting of Neil Leyton (lead vocalist), Mikael Lundin (viola Amarantina, backing vocals, bass, Mellotron, viola Campaniça), João Sousa (drums and Adufe), Vasco Ribeiro Casais (viola Braguesa), Abel Beja (viola Terceira), and Jan-Eric Olsson (bass and viola Campaniça), Lusitanian Ghosts have cast aside guitars for this new full-length and replaced them with regional chordophones alongside bass and drums with a Portuguese square drum, the Adufe, also employed. It makes for a freshly intriguing and engaging aspect to a sound which has already shown a tantalising quality, and songs which reflect on social and political issues; the traditional voice of that instrumentation in turn bringing a new views and nuances to that commentary.
Soul Deranium starts the album off, the track immediately stroking ears with joyous intent as rhythms share their own playful shuffle. Inspired by the Portuguese Carnation Revolution which was a spark to the country’s modern democracy, the track bears a celebratory air and intent which fuels every aspect of its increasingly infectious and addictive incitement. With Leyton’s vocals just as magnetic in their feel good stirring, the song provides a contagious start for the release whilst not neglecting the darker hues which the uprising vanquished.
The following Never Less Than Lonely has a Beatles-esque breath to its voice and melodic enterprise. Like its predecessor it shares a gentle and evocative air and reflection which aligns its own character to that of further emerging textures, tension and anxiety fuelling its own evolving invention while looking at the impact and heartbreak of diminishing mental agility and the emotional dilemma and angst felt through any aspect of dementia.
All the Sounds is next up and again gently but almost forcibly grips ears and attention with its wave of melodic enticement and calmer but no less rhythmic inducement. There is an inherent catchiness, something which drives the whole album in varying ways, which swiftly gets under the skin as drama and emotive anxiety shades lyrical and vocal apprehension. Again there was no escaping its enriching hold before the album’s title track brought a Bowie-esque tempting to ears with its emotive hue and cry similarly holding the outside world at bay.
Rhythmically alone Older and Colder/Hometown had us enthralled, the traditional resonance of the Adufe captivating even before the array of chordophones join voice and rhythms in weaving a landscape of temptation and increasing drama where Lundin for the latter part of the track, as in the previous song, takes the vocal reins.
There is a great XTC quality to next up Living One Life (Just Ain’t Enough These Days), a melodic frivolity and imagination which is echoed in the creative joy of its authors. In no time we were bouncing to its eager stroll and voicing accompanying keenness with Leyton’s own enthused insight. A rousing slice of dextrous folk ‘n roll the track is more than matched in temptation by For the Wicked. Noir lit from its first breath and carrying certain intrigue, the song is dark cinematic seduction with espionage in its proposal. It has the air of classic spy TV shows and Cold War surrounded movie exploits but with a personal intimacy in its deliberation and a tension which erupts with compelling drama.
Lisbon Calling is another celebratory engagement, a dextrous stomp which was under the skin in no time, orchestrating feet and hips to its infection loaded incitement while She Couldn’t Jump provided another vibrant excuse to dance whilst lapping up its fifties toned rock ‘n’ roll. As throughout Exotic Quixotic, the band’s ability to fuse traditional instruments, nostalgic hues of sound, and modern enterprise for a proposal as fresh and individual as anything emerging in pop/rock is lustfully highlighted in the song.
Concluding with Live the Flea, an increasingly dynamic ballad bearing its own specific captivation Exotic Quixotic left ears as enthralled as at any point across its fascinating body. It is a release themed by life, love and death, whether now or of historical inspiration, and also one inspired by the intimacy of people; it all making for one keenly devoured pleasure.
Exotic Quixotic is out now via European Phonographic, available @ https://lusitanianghosts.bandcamp.com/releases
Pete RingMaster 09/12/2021
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