As Wayne Everett fans already know, his gentler solo music is miles away from The Prayer Chain’s alt.rock aggression. Exhibit A: “The Smallest Earthquake,” from his lovely new Two Ghosts album is sweet, like a sound-minded Brian Wilson lullaby. Then there’s “Crazy Jean,” a gospel-y piano ballad that references ghosts, like the ones in the album’s title. This one is more singer/songwriter than guitar rock – even with its underwater-sounding electric guitar solo, and even though it breaks down with a relatively chaotic ending. All told, it’s an album filled with sonic experimentation and memorable melodies.
This is not to say, though, the album doesn’t also include the sort of guitar lick hooks for which Everett is known. “Blue Shadows” features jangle worthy of Echo & the Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant, and “The Kite” mixes melodic guitars with industrial noise-like elements as deftly as did U2 on Achtung Baby. Although Everett wasn’t likely ever properly recognized for his vocal skills in The Prayer Chain, just dig his Carl Wilson-esque falsetto vocal moment during the chorus to “Manpower (When All the World Is Singing).” I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Everett’s ‘bromance’ with Steve Hindalong (who also played on this album) with a track titled “Hey Skinny.” (You may recall Hindalong’s ode to Everett with “Diggin’ Your Style” off Hindalong’s 1998 Skinny solo album). When Everett praises Hindalong’s percussive skills, he even expresses this compliment the way Hindalong may have said it himself: “Shook the shaker evenly.” He sounds a lot like Hindalong while singing about Hindalong. These two may well be brothers from another mother, in some strange musical sort of way.
The album closes with “Prisoners,” which combines a driving guitar rhythm and nicely stacked harmonic vocals. It’s a sweetly hopeful note on which to end this enjoyable 10-song collection.