CAPSULE LIVE HARD IN THE POST-BREAKDOWN WORLD ON NO GHOST
Capsule have a bright and kinetic sound that I associate with a lot of bands I out-and-out despise (their merch — the kind with loud colors and random images, often owls — doesn’t help matters). And No Ghost, their latest, is reminiscent of the deluge of boring post-hardcore bands that we’re still getting pelted with today, the kind arrogant rich white kids think is the greatest and only music ever made, rolling their eyes at you when you claim, “No, I’ve heard this, and this is much more dull than the crap it’s ripping off.”
But I don’t hate Capsule. Hell, I like No Ghost quite a bit. They ride the same rail their post-Blood Brothers/Poison the Well scenester friends do, but manage to stay on it and confidently harness what those bands did to captivate: a reservoir of angular chords and noodling, a tight-but-spontaneous rhythm section, and appropriate vocals (No tone-deaf clean singing! Holy shit!). It actually sounds FRESH and NEW. They sound CREATIVE. Most importantly, they sound INTERESTING. That in itself is a small miracle in this genre. It challenges the preconceived notions of its intended audience. But at the same time, it isn’t really a difficult or challenging record. I kept waiting for a moment to drop into No Ghost that would make me hate it. But it never arrived.
The key thing about the record and, assumedly, Capsule (a band who’ve been around for a few albums but with whom I was not previously familiar) is that there’s no pandering. While bands that sound similar to them will throw in a breakdown, two-step, or undercooked chorus for the dumb kids who may have heard them at the mall, Capsule assume you know what they’re trying to do already. No Ghost is the sound of a band who’ve worked through immaturity but haven’t lost a youthful sheen. But while they lack the condescension that typically goes along with what they do, they certainly aren’t inaccessible. Hell, No Ghost is relentlessly catchy, a collection of post-hardcore freakouts and math rock seizures reassembled with immensely pleasing results. But while the drums kick back and forth through d-beats, odd time signature exercises, and random blasts, the album never feels pieced together. It’s a natural progression from one part to the next. Sure, it may be a stream of consciousness, but that train of thought is always interesting and frequently affecting. It’s lively and unpredictable, but never hodgepodge.
Theoretically, the songs essentially being indiscernible from one another the first few listens should be an issue. And the secret track they tack onto the end is a complete waste of time. But with the more interesting dalliances of Poison the Well now “on hiatus” with the rest of the band, this sort of music being genuinely produced is a wonderful thing to hear. The amount of commercial cynicism being crammed down the throat of hardcore, post-hardcore, and whatever-else-hardcore, it’s great to hear a band that sound genuinely interested in their music. Capsule are making a point so frantically that it’s kind of hard to make out what they’re trying to say, so you have to go back and listen again. And once you get it, you want to hear it more. Maybe this is dumb luck. But really, I’d like to think that this is a band that know their shit and know how to keep you hungry. No Ghost is the kind of album that demands return but doesn’t put you off at first either. It gets under your skin and wiggles around. In the exponentially oversaturated world of (blank)core, that’s fucking significant.
(4 out of 5 horns)