Ryan Hamilton and The Harlequin Ghosts: Nowhere To Go But Everywhere

review ryan hamilton x1 cong p17

You could be in danger of hearing far too much of this likable pop album, which is basically Busted for adults and might get a lot of radio play.

We’ve never heard of the band before but they are clearly all experienced musicians. Hamilton is American, and the Ghosts from the UK; Hamilton has played in the bands People On Vacation (with Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick) and Smile Smile, and RHHG started when he wrote a song with his friend Ginger Wildheart, of legendary rockers band The Wildhearts. The track caught the attention of Wicked Cool label boss Steven Van Zandt, who eventually signed the band.

The songs are pure pop and immediately catchy, all jangly guitars and sunny vocals. Track two, Oh No, conveniently gives you all their influences, “What’s the story, morning glory / who’s next / hunky dory / pet sounds / blood on the tracks … all things must pass” but they sound less like Beatles or Beach Boys, Dylan or Bowie than a cross between Busted and Fountains of Wayne.

The music is slick and the lyrics often witty, always intelligent. Newcastle Charm is an early standout, a catchy tune paying tribute to Geordie girls “a cold exterior and a great big heart” who’ll “hold your hand just to break your arm,” “going out with the girls and out-drinking the boys”.

Out Of My League is another, the narrator expressing surprise (“what’s she doing with me?”) at landing a beautiful wife, the wit slightly undermined by reference to a “trophy wife” at the end.

Jesus and John Lennon is also good (“she goes to church on Sunday morning / To cleanse her soul of Saturday night”), the title because “after a beautiful start it’s all going to fall apart”.

Perhaps not an album you’d listen to on repeat but an enjoyable collection of clever and melodic pop.

The sleeve image of the truck was taken by Hamilton on Route 66, during a cross-country road trip, last year. “Something desolate, but beautiful about it,” he said on his social media.

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