By Vish KhannaAfter pouring so much of his past into the Acorn's 2007 breakthrough, Glory Hope Mountain, Rolf Klausener took new steps with his re-configured band, leading them to No Ghost. Renowned by indie rock enthusiasts for writing deeply personal, impassioned songs, the Acorn discovered a whole new audience with Glory Hope Mountain, which chronicled the tumultuous life of Klausener's Central American-born mother. Less angst-y, but equally contemplative, No Ghost takes on a different shape primarily because the Acorn have lost and replaced core members, and Klausener experimented more with jamming and collaborative writing. The result is an earnest, yet loose, batch of dynamic tunes forming one of the cheeriest Acorn albums in years. There's conviction to gems like "Misplaced," one of Klausener's most accomplished love songs, and the anthemic title track bursts forth with post-punk precision and an Afro-inspired groove. If there's a campfire sing-along vibe to the folk-laden/Bon Jovi-title-aping "Slippery When Wet" or the roots rock sway of "I Made the Law," it's the lakeside cottage where many of these songs were captured seeping into the mix. Ultimately, the Acorn employ urgent vocals and compelling, organic arrangements to infuse the weighty No Ghost with real lift.
How did recording No Ghost compare to Glory Hope Mountain? Klausener: We went through some personnel challenges that needed sorting out and then the experience was really great. Going in with no preconceived ideas and, like, three songs was a little nerve-wracking, but we could record anything that came to mind. It was a neat mix of writing spontaneously and labouring over songwriting.
Was it odd writing a record without a concept? Not initially, but definitely by the end of it I was like, "How am I going to talk about this if there isn't a story to it?" We'd never been this isolated together; it was just eating, swimming and writing. So that fed into our songs and made us really self-reflective about how the band fit into the outside world and the things that stir our minds.
Comparably, is this a cheery Acorn record? Oh my God, is it ever. We all knew that the membership was changing. No Ghost was a new breath or expression, but, at the same time, it was a closing of a series that began with the first record. In a lot of ways, it was inspired by the same things and feelings. (Paper Bag)