Selling Insincerity is the debut album of Abigail's Ghost, a young American band formed around the nucleus of guitarist and vocalist Joshua Theriot and bassist Kenneth Wilson. Though the band avoids categorization, their style of music mostly falls into progressive rock that emphasizes a blend of groove, spacey atmospheres, and excellent vocal harmonies.
This is a self-released effort, drawing from a vast library of influences including Porcupine Tree, A Perfect Circle, Tool, Massive Attack, and Rush. The low bass drones of the album opener "Mazurka" lead into the rhythmically aware "Close", which immediately stands out for its Porcupine Tree-like vocal arrangement, sparse drum beats, and bleak synth lines. The chorus of the song is incredibly memorable, and helps thicken the already dense soundscape. You can hear lots of weird sound collections in the background if you listen with a good set of headphones. The song breaks down into a creepy middle section filled with cold acoustic guitars capped by powerful bass strokes and distant keyboards.
Joshua Theriot employs a similar vocal recording technique to Steven Wilson; he utilises the same processed vocal style and laidback singing whilst continuously exerting a melodious delivery. His vocal melodies on songs like "Waiting Room" and "Seeping" are amazing. Though most will be reminded of Steven Wilson when hearing him sing, Theriot cites Chris Corner of IAMX and Sneaker Pimps as his main influence. He is also an excellent guitar player, adding varied guitar sounds to the compositions. He can go from elegiac lead playing on "Monochrome" to atonal expressions on "Love Sounds" and "Cerulean Blue", both of which boast a Belew-like tone and articulation.
Kenneth Wilson's backing vocals and bass are equally important to the success of these songs. Not only is he a gifted songwriter, he is also an excellent producer given the duo's limited resources when recording this album. If it weren't for the amazing production, there is no way these songs would sound as good as they do. Wilson's bass playing is particularly central on "Cerulean Blue", complete with industrial-like beats, eerie sounds, and manipulated vocal parts. The mix on this song is phenomenal, blowing the listener away with killer right-left speaker panning.
The other members' performance is awesome as well. The studio drummer did a great job, as he exerts both classic 4/4 beats and complex polyrhythms depending on the flow of the song (he is now replaced by permanent member John Patrick Rodrigue). They have also enlisted a second guitar player since they cut the record: Randy Paul. However, Joshua Theriot's guitar work is solid through and through with crunchy rhythms and excellent leads. Theriot has also recorded some synths along with keyboardist Brett Guillory who brings in Barbieri-like synth textures in order to reach necessary atmospheres.
The lyrics are thought-provoking and match the incredible artwork perfectly. The image on the front cover gives a sense of separation while the baby doll lying on the ground in the foreground has ties to themes of abandonment, which is explored on the album. Also, "Sellout" could be read as a nod to Porcupine Tree's "The Sound of Muzak", but it is also about compromising oneself. The band isn't that keen on talking about their lyrics as they believe it might defeat the purpose of extrapolating one's own meaning.
Fans who enjoy progressive music that marries the hallmarks of Porcupine Tree's modern-sounding material with the harmonies of Cure and A Perfect Circle should check this disc out. Selling Insincerity is one of the best debuts of the year along with Thought Chamber's Angular Perceptions and John Macaluso & Union Radio's The Radio Waves Goodbye.
- Waiting Room
- Love Sounds
- Dead People's Review
- Cerulean Blue
- Mother May I?