Having reunited with their original lineup in 2013, Veruca Salt have returned with their new LP, Ghost Notes. This album marks the first collaboration between Louise Post and Nina Gordon since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You. From a reviewer’s perspective, one might expect a lukewarm response to this record, but instead, the band recaptures the poppy and grungy charm that defined their 1994 release, American Thighs. It goes without saying that Post and Gordon’s reunion is crucial to the success of this endeavor.
Following ’97, neither artist experienced much success individually. Post led various incarnations of Veruca Salt, resulting in albums that are difficult to recall, while Gordon embarked on a forgotten solo career that produced two records marred by major label pitfalls. This “woe is me” backstory sets the perfect stage for Ghost Notes, as Veruca Salt makes the most of their circumstances.
The album kicks off with the groovy opener, “The Gospel According to Saint Me,” as the band eases back into their signature sound. However, it truly hits its stride with the attitude-filled follow-up track, “Black And Blonde.” The commanding bass and heavy drums dominate the song, while the soaring harmonies and hushed sing-along in the background serve as a reminder that Veruca Salt is back in full force. Though they’ve occasionally bordered on forgettable clichés, pulling it off at this stage is no easy feat. The nearly six-minute-long “Empty Bottle” is one of those songs that sticks with you. It starts off incredibly slow, only to crank up the intensity within seconds. The passion still shines through, evident in the climactic lyrics: “Banging my head against a wall of sound; A wall like a lover, it brings me to the ground; We surf the crowd, oh, we won’t be defeated; I don’t want to drown if you’re not drowning with me.” These words remind us that emotions remain timeless, irrespective of age or era.
Let me be frank; Ghost Notes will likely not make it into the Top 50 this year. However, it marks a solid return to the stage for Veruca Salt. If you were a fan of their first two records, Ghost Notes will satisfy your core. At 55 minutes, the album may be a tad lengthy, but it compensates for lost time as Veruca Salt showcases their enduring musical prowess until the very end.
Key Tracks: “Black And Blonde” / “Empty Bottle” / “The Sound Of Leaving”
Artists With Similar Fire: Juliana Hatfield / Weezer / Throwing Muses