Album Review: Elvis Valentine and The Ghosts of Chance – The Book of Numbers

Out on Bandcamp is ‘The Book of Numbers’ by Elvis Valentine and The Ghosts of Chance, an offshoot of the Scottish Shoegaze band, Wozniak. This album is a fuzzy, alternative rock long-player, evoking the poppy edge of Big Star, Neil Young, Steelers wheel and Dinosaur JR. At times, there’s a Garage-Punk snarl, which can then fly off into the realms of Psychedelic-tinged Glam Rock, fist-pumping 70s stadium rock and 90s Sonic experimentation.

Lyrically, there’s light and shade, fun and darkness. A wide range of themes and moods are expressed in these tunes. There are some proper standout tunes on the album.The first track is ‘Given to Lose’ This tune is the real, ‘single’ of the album. It’s has got some effective use of a multi-voice harmony technique, putting the listener in mind of Bandwagonesque-era Teenage Fanclub and it’s a fantastically fuzzy, but poppy start to the album.

Later, there’s the tune ‘The Great Hunt in the Sky (song for Mal)’ a lament for a missed and much loved pet dog. This tune is highly personal, a story, a bond, in all its rocky loveliness. It’s bittersweet, but rather than dwelling on sadness, it’s remembering the positive. There’s the bass driven ‘Ghosts of Xmas’, a fuzzy, bass-driven jam with an air of sadness and loneliness. It draws on the sometime illusion of goodwill to all men and cheer over the Christmas period.

The Infernal Machine (InstruMENTAL) is an instrumental acting as a divider between songs. It’s got the noisy rhythm of Goo-era Sonic Youth and the bounce of 90s Stereolab. Then there’s Mexican Blackbird.This tune is a bit more psychedelia meets glam-rock than the other tunes. It again, provides contrast and variety. There’s a feel of T-Rex, Syd Barrett, and ‘…Warm Jets’ era Brian Eno. Most of the songs are powered by an awesome bass and drum combo, giving these songs an almost danceable (or moshable) beat, reminiscent of David Lovering’s powerhouse drum-rhythms in The Pixies.

On occasion the sound of this album is reminiscent of this act’s parent band, Wozniak, almost drifting into the dreamlike world of Shoegaze, (The tune ‘Ride the Hurricane) but Elvis Valentine and The Ghosts of Chance forge a unique sound of fuzzy rock tunes and noisy pop, that will have you thirsting for more.

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