The Rocketboys’ “20,000 Ghosts”
20,000 Ghosts opens like a rolling wave, growing stronger and more beautiful, filling the first thirty some seconds with a rousing tempo that almost drowns out the lyrics until lead singer Brandon Kinder breaks into a Chris Martin-esque falsetto, singing “And we are safe, and we are sound. And we are a lighthouse calling out, […]Beth Yeckley
out of 10
September 29, 2009
20,000 Ghosts opens like a rolling wave, growing stronger and more beautiful, filling the first thirty some seconds with a rousing tempo that almost drowns out the lyrics until lead singer Brandon Kinder breaks into a Chris Martin-esque falsetto, singing “And we are safe, and we are sound. And we are a lighthouse calling out, ‘come home, come home.’”
This triumphant opening to the album, which is the band’s first full-length work since the days of being called Homer Hiccolm & The Rocketboys, is followed by an array of music both electric and soulful, bound together by lyrics that are unforgettable within the first pass of the album. Currently based out of Austin, Texas, the full-bodied musical aggregate consists of Brandon Kinder, Daniel Wheeler, Justin Wiseman, Mitch Holt, Josh Campbell, and Alex Bhore. In the third song, “Sights and Sounds,” the cadence of the album changes and the identity of the band transcends the lightness of pop and you being to feel yourself ease into a comfortable place with the music. From this point on, 20,000 Ghosts becomes a darker recount of loss and the attempts to translate the unspeakable language of grief and loneliness.
“Like Ice In Water” feels like being on an endless drive to the place you belong… winding between trees, passing over the sunset into an unknown sky where your only link to familiarity is the stars hanging above you. With a range of songs that are both conversational and story-like, this is perhaps the most reflective one on the album, singing “Time is all we have. And you were just collecting, memories of a few good things you love… But lately I’ve been wondering if I am good enough. Am I really gone like ice in water?”
“I Saw a Stone” is the only song on the album that has a gritty intro, but the song quickly takes the shape of the rest of the album falling into line with slow-moving piano keys and eventually the guitar saunters in. I think this is one of the most imagery-filled songs on the album. And it is astounding how The Rocketboys can place a listener in a trance, wherein even lyrics of fierce and desperate activity cannot change the shape your heart assumes when listening to these songs.
There is a doubtless musical likeness to bands such as Coldplay, Snow Patrol, and even vocally to Ben Gibbard in songs like “Islands.” But the band has created a story that is very much its own. 20,000 Ghosts is a wonderful creation of steady melodies laced with percussion that adds a sanguine dimension to every song, delivering music that is simply moving. Through the lyrics, we catch glimpses of a man talking to himself, to the night, and to the space his loved one left behind—the void that should not exist and cannot be filled. It’s as though these songs were sung in hopes to fill that space.