Despite ‘Hindsight Is 50/50’ being the third album from Ghost Woman in 18 months, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Evan Uschenko believes that this is the first album that “finally captures the true nature of the band”.
The album was recorded mostly live in three days at the analogue Kerwax studios in Brittany, France by Christophe Chavanon (The Good Damn).
Uschenko states that “the first two albums were never meant to be albums: they are like pages from diaries that have long since been burned. With the introduction of Ille van Dessel as co-writer/drummer, the project feels like it has a direction”.
There is a confidence and assurance that feels built upon the 2022 eponymous debut and the follow-up ‘Anne, If’, which was only released in January 2023. This urgency to progress and keep moving forward is reflected by the band: “We prefer to keep busy. But we’re lazy too. We still feel like we could be doing a lot more.”
Overall, there is a darker, denser feel compared to previous releases, but the sound and vibe of this album is more akin to what the project was supposed to be when it started in 2016, finally realising Ghost Woman’s creative vision.
The immersion into the album is immediate, locking in with the incessant riffing of ‘Bonehead’ setting the scene for what follows. Next up is the echoey, garage-surf twang of ‘Alright Alright’. The opening line “take a little walk with me…” has a sinister, gothic hue that wouldn’t feel out of place on Murder Ballads or Peaky Blinders.
Sonically the album holds itself together within a warm, analogue soundworld, but with few digestible vocal melodies steering the tracks or easily giving up their meaning. This is a conscious decision, with Uschenko claiming that “there is never a concept when it comes to creating something, and no intention behind anything we create, other than to make noise and complete an album”.
‘Yoko’ reverts to chugging boogie, spitting into life in bursts of squalling guitars, and a mid-song breakdown that infers the live version will far outlive its three and a half recorded minutes.
Most songs are similarly restrained in their running time, indicating a strong sense of focus and editing, rather than letting the songs run away with themselves. Only ‘Juan’ really breaks the five-minute mark and feels like the album’s centrepiece; an exuberant amalgamation of the themes and tones surrounding it. The band say that “these songs were made to be played live”, and the closing build will work perfectly in the darkest, noisiest club you can find.
The title track continues this positive curve. The title is a play on the saying ‘Hindsight is 20/20’, based on a friend’s drunken tattoo gone wrong. “Maybe it means life is all chance. Maybe it means common sense isn’t so common”, say the band.
Vocals come drenched in reverb and meaning is often suggested rather than explicit. The guitars are heavier and the vocals are less easily discernible, but Uschenko believes that “vocals are not important. We prefer to not be understood. If you’re looking for meaning in these lyrics, might I suggest buying a Lenny Bruce record instead?”. Sound advice indeed, so immerse yourself in this album and tell your friends about it without the benefit of hindsight, 20/20 or otherwise.
Overall, Ghost Woman appreciate that they have arrived at where they always wanted to get to: “It is the sound it was meant to be. It is the band as a whole”.