Album Review: Ghostpoet – Dark Days + Canapés

By on Tuesday, 3rd October 2017 at 12:00 pm

Ghostpoet Dark Days album coverGhostpoet, real name Obaro Ejimiwe, is the London-born, twice Mercury Prize-nominated poet and musician. His debut album released in 2011, titled ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’ earned favourable reception and showcased Ejimiwe’s unique blend of electronic Sprechgesang. Since then, he’s released three more studio albums, his latest ‘Dark Days + Canapés’ out now on Play It Again Sam. On the new record, Ejimiwe touches upon a wide range of subjects and ideas from relationships and dating, to social media and the media, and how we frame our connections to others in a modern world. He also moves into a moodier and more subdued musical territory than the album that came before it, ‘Shedding Skin’.

‘Immigrant Boogie’, the first single released from the album, sets the precedence for an album that comments and critiques society, this single digging into the refugee crisis and the emotions surrounding migration. Opening with a jarring guitar note and repetitive drum and synth rhythm, there’s a spookiness to the track, emphasised in the echoing of the music and Ejimiwe’s voice. Ejimiwe positions himself as a refugee, highlighting the struggle that people go through when attempting to find better lives for themselves in a country other than their own: “I was dreaming of a better life / with my two kids and my loving wife / but I can’t swim, the water’s in my lungs / so here if ends when life has just begun”. This track is especially evocative when considering the events of the last few years and the terrible images that have shared as a result of the refugee crisis. The track will no doubt leave some listeners feeling a little uncomfortable and hyper aware of their own privileged in contrast to their heart-breaking plight of many people who are forced to leave their homes every day. .

Then, on ‘Freakshow’, Ejimiwe talks about modern dating. “so I swipe left and figure it out / it’s a freakshow” is a clear reference to Tinder and the bizarre circus of social media dating. On the track, Ejimiwe’s deep and drawling tone matches well with the steady pulse of the backing track and distant-sounding hum of electric guitar that runs over the track. Social media commentary is echoed again on ‘Dopamine If I Do’, specifically with the lyric “shaky on your toes / Instagram your foes”, again hitting out at the bizarre ways that we interact now that our lives are played out on our smartphones.

With a hypnotic electronic opening rhythm, on ‘Live>Leave’ Ejimiwe says, “I’m afraid of the future / I’ve forgiven the past”, again touching at the fear of an uncertain future that is repeated in the media every day. He goes on to say ‘I’m not dumb, I read papers’ and ‘people sold down the river / could be me could be you’, talking about the way in which various groups of people are marginalized not only in society but also targeted with negative stereotypes in the media.

Overall, the album is a melancholy and dark summation of the times that we are in. Scathing recounts of the treatment of our fellow man are placed side by side with criticisms and observations on contemporary life. The title of the album itself speaks of this problematic dichotomy, that darker days exist alongside canapés, a symbol of good fortune and celebratory times. Like much of Ghostpoet’s catalogue, the title and this album are an eloquent way of highlighting the dual aspects of first-world society, with the unfortunate and the privileged existing simultaneously. It’s the type of album that sticks with you long after you’ve listened to it, and tugs at your heartstrings whilst you are listening, by pointing out very relevant and very human issues. On the album, Ejimiwe captures something of the time that we live in, and manages to put into song both the mundane and life-changing issues people face in the modern world.


Editor Mary Chang contributed to this review. ‘Dark Days + Canapés’, the fourth album from the cerebral Ghostpoet, is out now on PIAS. Catch him on tour starting in late October when he plays shows in the UK and Ireland. For more on Ghostpoet here on TGTF, follow this link.

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