Fun, loose, and sing-along-friendly are what first come to mind when listening to Apollo Ghosts’ latest album, Landmark. Yet, within the 15-song offering are embedded main songwriter Adrian Teacher’s honest, personal, and often moving words about home, friends, insecurities, love and losing love.
Their follow-up to 2010’s Polaris Prize long-listed Mount Benson, Landmark was written in Sackville, New Brunswick, and recorded in the band’s hometown of Vancouver, B.C. As on Mount Benson, Apollo Ghosts demonstrate their penchant for catchy bass lines and jangly guitar hooks, and quick, to-the-point songs, most of which clock in at the 1:30 to 2:00 mark. However, Landmark has a much more organic, garage rock feel than its predecessor, perhaps due to their DIY approach and the influence of the eclectic Sackville arts and music community.
The album’s opener, “What Are Your Influences?”, is a welcome introduction to Landmark with its happy, toe-tapping riff and the celebratory gang vocal yelping as Teacher muses, perhaps, about the fast pace of an artist’s rise to notoriety. Offerings like “Weekend Paradise”, “Paralysis of My Long Clerkship”, “I’m In Love with the USA” and “Newcastle” brim with the same feel-good, upbeat energy and memorable hooks that one can’t help but bop their head along.
There are moments on Landmark that aren’t sunny, however. Teacher reveals his most vulnerable and honest moments on songs like “So Much Better When You’re Gone” and “Will You Forget Me”. On the former, bearing its unvarnished honesty in the title, Teacher sings about the end of a relationship, vowing to keep his heart even if it means giving up all the shared possessions. On the latter, the album’s closing song, the band ends on a beautiful refrain of harmonies that declares “There’s no memory at all, there’s an island.”
Like good songwriters do, Adrian Teacher allows the listener inside to experience his emotions, thoughts and memories on an intimate level. Yet, on Landmark, Apollo Ghosts make sure you have a great time along the way, leaving their delicious garage pop melodies stuck in your head; which is a good thing.