Album Review – Ghosts of Eden’s ‘What Makes You Happy’

Hailing from the streets of Brooklyn, Ghosts of Eden are an indie rock outfit that have been active in varying capacities since 2009. Lauded as “a powerhouse unit that pumps vigor into every note,” the four piece band has risen to be a favorite in their community, injecting grunge, pop, and alternative rock influence into their sound. Their latest studio endeavor, ‘What Makes You Happy,’ is an eight track romp through relationship strife.

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While Ghosts of Eden cites inspiration from some of the pivotal grunge and rock acts of the 80s, 90s, and 2000’s, their sound is most easily paralleled to the final of those three decades. The opening track of ‘What Makes You Happy,’ for example, is an anthemic fist-pumping ride called ‘Criminal Inside.’ It has metal and hard rock influence in its composition, but there’s also pop sensibility and angst. It’s perhaps best reminiscent of the “pop punk” movement of an earlier era when bands the likes of My Chemical Romance reigned supreme.

The themes in the songs are akin to the pop punk movement as well, with songs like ‘Happy’ firing shots across the bow at a relationship potentially gone awry with hooks the likes of “all of your thoughts are nothing of concern to me.” The following track, ‘Knives (When It’s Over),’ continues its tear-down of a   past significant other, chronicling the pain of relationship ending. The tracks don’t exhibit much emotional maturity, and hence, I’d argue they’d probably connect best with a younger audience.

 

‘Terrible Things’ reaches conclusions of self-reliance and individuality, citing feelings pent up over time to want a life of one’s own. The thematic shift away from pining for the past is refreshing, however, and that c continues through ‘Prizefighter,’ one of the album’s better songs, even if it does sound like it’s off the cutting floor of a Foreigner session.

 

Much of the album’s sonic quality blurs into itself with songs sounding too similar. ‘Doubting Thomas,’ arguably the album’s best song both musically and lyrically, differs from the noise that precedes it, giving it more pep in its step. The atmospheric, brooding piece is one of the album’s longer tracks, but it gives Ghosts of Eden room to explore a softer, more intimate sound.

 

When the band is explosive, however, they’re at their strongest on ‘Eyes,’ the LP’s second to last effort. It’s a blistering good time, offering punchy percussion, aggressive lead guitar, and bombastic lead vocals. ‘Ka-Pow’ feels a bit too similar in this regard, as if the final two tracks are following the same formula – but it’s a relatively strong closer nonetheless. It certainly has one of the better pop-infused hooks on the record.

 

‘What Makes You Happy’ is, at times, very predictable. It even feels dated in some ways, since this is a sound that was mostly popularized by a young audience in the early 2000’s. There’s still a place for it, however, either through nostalgia or new youth, and thus, Ghosts of Eden will likely find themselves in a very fruitful niche. Their production is excellent, and even if the lyricism isn’t always memorable, their passion is very noticeable and worth lauding.

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