The Black Ghosts’ 2008 eponymous debut album emerged into the world with very little fanfare or consequence, but this follow-up may very well make larger waves. The London-based duo of singer-songwriter Simon Lord and producer Theo Keating, who has a thriving sideline gig as techno DJ Fake Blood, work at the nexus where gorgeously melancholic electronica meets beautifully poised confessional pop, and When Animals Stare finds these elements dovetailing seamlessly.
Lord has previously done time in turn-of-the-millennium U.K. electro-pop magpies Simian, before they became Simian Mobile Disco, and Black Ghosts tracks such as “Water Will Find A Way” and the simultaneously sumptuous and eerie “Even In The Darkness” echo that band’s infectious glitch-pop arabesques. Keating is a sufficiently slick and inventive studio alchemist to craft electro-doodles and earworms such as “Diamonds and Sanguinella” that are perfect for those long post-club comedown hours, but the Black Ghosts’ surprise unique selling point on When Animals Stare is Lord’s vocals. Rich, poignant and implication-laden, his quavering tenor recalls the exquisite élan of David McAlmont on stand-out mini-symphonies such as “That’s All There Is” and “Aurora,” while his angst-explosion on cathartic funk-soul break-up anthem “Talk No More,” which finds him gabbling incoherently in tongues at his recalcitrant partner, is breathtaking. Black Ghosts are marginal spirits now but need only one breakthrough hit to springboard, Hot Chip-style, into the mainstream.