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Holy Ghost! take us through their third record, 'Work'

21 June 2019 | 12:30 pm | Caitlin Medcalf

Holy Ghost! have today released their third studio record, Work via West End Records. It's the first original work to be released on the label in 30 years.

It's the first original work to be released on seminal disco label West End Records in over 30 years, and rightfully so! We are of course talking about HOLY GHOST!'s highly-anticipated third studio record, Work which is out today.

The last record we heard from the Brooklyn based synthpop duo was 2013's Dynamics, a release that saw the duo transcend indie-dance tropes that quite a few artists moving through that period simply couldn't get over. 2013 was most definitely a transformative time for indie and dance music, and in the six years that have passed since Holy Ghost!'s last full-length, you can feel the growth embedded in every element of Work.

The record is ultimately a disco record, but what strikes you from the outset is that their structural approach to indie songwriting hasn't changed much. In the context of Work, it needed to retain that element of indie songwriting to keep that glossy Holy Ghost! sheen they'd captured so well on previous records.

There's an all-star cast of collaborators featured on this record, including Sinkane's Ahmed Gallab, Juan MacleanNancy Whang and more. The record feels like one big nod to disco's transformative history, but simultaneously highly contemporary. Its home on West End Records is an apt one.

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Holy Ghost! put together a track-by-track breakdown of the record for us. Check it out below while you listen through the record.

1. 'Epton On Broadway, Pt. 1'
We started this song with Alex Epton, our friend and producer who has a studio in the basement of XL Recordings in Soho, NYC. The beat came together really quickly around a piano riff and then took quite a while to finish up. In the end it’s one of my favorite tracks on the record. A little yachty, but hopefully not toooo yachty. 

2. 'Epton On Broadway, Pt. 2'
We always wanted to have some interludes on our records like the hip-hop records we grew up with and love. I went out to get lunch while we were mixing 'Epton On Broadway Pt. 1' and when I came back, Nick had this little edit /interlude going and I loved it. It’s a nice break, a palate cleanser so to speak. 

3. 'Anxious'
One of the first songs we completed for the record. Originally not intended to be a single, but Tom Moulton (legendary West End Records mixing engineer) said it was his favorite when we played demos for him.... and when Tom says it’s a single it’s a single. My favorite sound on the track is the Omnichord doing the lush-harp like chords. 

4. 'Heaven Knows What'
This song has a strange trajectory. A few years ago, Nick and I did some music that didn’t get used for our friend Josh Safdie for his film Heaven Knows What. Last year I was going through my demo folders and found a little modular sequence we had given to Josh. As soon as I heard it, I just kinda wrote this whole song on top of it. It was cool but it’s Nick's drumming on the song - the huge fills - that makes it special to me. My favorite song on the record. 

5. 'Nicky Buckingham'
Another one we started with Alex Epton at XL Studios. To me, the highlight of the song is the strange metallic modular noises that sort of play counterpoint to the vocals. That and the arp 2600 baseline. 

6. 'Do This'
Some songs take a long, long time to write, some come quick. I think I wrote the demo for this in about 10 minutes. We’re starting to play this live and it’s a lot of fun. 

7. 'One For Pete'
Another interlude. The funkiest elements of 'Do This' isolated. 

8. 'My Happy House'
Crazy, but we started this song about 10 years ago when we were working with Juan Maclean, thus the name 'My Happy House' - named after his big song at the time. While we were finishing the record we came upon the demo and were like “fuck, why didn’t we finish this !” So we did. And here it is. Kind of acid baseline, with Talking Heads-y vocals, crispy live drums. Another one of my favorites. 

9. 'Soon'
A shuffle! I’m just happy we were able to actually get a shuffle on a full length. We’ve only done one before ('Stereotype' on Crime Cutz EP). Obviously a bit Tears For Fears, and MJ... But the bridge sounds like Steely Dan to me for some reason as well. 

10. 'Heaven Forbid'
A song we wrote with our Australian friend Sid. He played the bass. Short, vocodery fun. 

11. 'Slow Burn'
Super sparse, sick modular baseline and Nick on drums. Some of my favorite lyrics on the album. 

12. 'Escape From Los Angeles'
The longest song on the album and one that may have taken the longest to complete. A real synth odyssey to close the record.

Listen to Work via your streaming service of choice here.

Photo by Harry McNally