Massachusetts Alt-Folk Duo Handsome Ghost Shares Self-Titled LP
August 25, 2023 BY Jason Currell
Today, Handsome Ghost, the dynamic Massachusetts alt-folk duo comprised of lead singer/songwriter Tim Noyes and multi-instrumentalist/producer Eddie Byun have shared their self-titled album via Nettwerk. An underlying theme of self-reflection and exploration of purpose permeates on the band’s third full-length record, Handsome Ghost. It’s an album grappling with becoming stuck in a kind of never-ending adolescence while everyone around you is growing in some way. Handsome Ghost weighs in on their journey of how being musicians have contributed to the complexities of their own adulthood. They look back at the bittersweet times, wondering if it was more bitter or sweet in the aftermath.
Tim Noyes of Handsome Ghost reveals this about the album,
“On the songwriting for the record, at some point it hit me that I had been playing in bands for a very, very long time. I realized that music, for better or for worse, had become the defining element of my adult life. Countless tours and making records – I’ve had incredible experiences over the years that very few people get to have. But as a result, I have found myself stuck in some sort of partial state of adulthood and I recognize the impact that years in music have had on the other parts of my life. The songs on the album are an examination of those years spent pushing the musical rock up the musical hill, and where it’s all led me. I’m less trying to answer the question of ‘was it all worth it?’ – though, for the record, I think it has been – and more just noting how it all happened, and documenting the good, the bad, and the ugly that I witnessed along the way.”
On the brand-new offering “Even On The Darkest Days,” Handsome Ghost reflects heavily on the past decade. The band’s wins, triumphs, stumbles, and even loses along the beaten path are worn like a badge of honor. They may be contemplating what has led up to now, but their sights remain intact looking to what’s ahead.
On album opener “April Song,” the band invites listeners to embark on a voyage through ethereal soundscapes and introspective lyrics. Drawing inspiration from their experiences on the road, the duo captures the essence of late-night drives during tours, where the urgency to reach the next show or the longing for the comfort of home amplifies the ferocity of emotions. The track serves as a catalyst for moments of profound lucidity that often arise during these overnight expeditions. With the lyrics, “Yeah I’ve been here before / And that’s what’s been holding me back,” Handsome Ghost’s insightful lyrics embark on the conflicts and questions that accompany a life dedicated to music, ultimately culminating in the realization that the journey is a unique and irreplaceable one.
Sonically, “Like You Lost Your Mind” has this push and pull element, allowing listeners to be floored with a multitude of swirling emotions. The track effortlessly blends electric guitars, subtle drums, and patient piano. Combined with lead singer Tim Noyes’ transfixing vocals, “Like You Lost Your Mind” brings to the forefront a beautiful contrast of aural textures. On the narrative side, the song alludes to the transient nature of life. It’s about cutting through the darkness, living in the moment, and allowing for one’s heart to both give and receive.
On “Heaven Isn’t Long For You,” the banjo sets the tone with a delicate twang in sync with layers of mandolin tracks as well as acoustic and electric guitars. It builds towards a tambourine-laden perfectly tailored for a campfire sing along. On the narrative home front, “Heaven Isn’t Long For You” bleeds into a diaristic tone, lyrics woven with the idea of an idyllic habitat that seems so close yet couldn’t be further away. The lyrics and sonic tone have a striking balance between quiet reflectiveness and a happy-go-lucky cadence.
“Call Me When You’re Pulling Up” offers a blend of upbeat sonics and soft cadences, the band finds the ideal balance of something wholly sentimental. The driving rhythm is propelled by a warm, melancholic soundscape that showcases intricate elements of shoegaze-y guitars interlaced with indie-meets-folk sprinkled rock. Narratively, the song is an exercise in self-reflection, thinking inwardly, and a call to action to pull oneself out of the gutters of feeling unrecognizable to themselves.
Powered by clean guitars, hushed vocals, and a plush ambience, “Neptune,” is sonically pieced together seamlessly and effectively. While intricately crafted arrangements and peaceful textures contribute to the song’s alluring grasp, it’s lyricist Tim Noyes’ delicate portrait of an enigmatic woman that keeps you sticking around. On the narrative home front, “Neptune” bleeds into a diaristic tone, lyrics woven with the ache of uncertainty but a hopefulness that a brighter outcome is somewhere out there, wherever somewhere may be. With “Tonight Comes Round Again,” the track ebbs and flows between a dreamy intro and festival-ready climax, recalling “when you’re hopping between couches and living wild, but you’re so young it’s okay.” Acoustic guitar reflects the beauty of untouched nature offset by a vocal catharsis from Caitlin Marie Bell.
“Figure 8” is a darker effort from the band about a fictional day with Elliot Smith and pays homage to the artist’s final full-length album of the same name. The dark lyrics and 90s-style electric guitar underpin the moody feeling of the track. Moody and expressive, the acoustic guitar on “Birch Trees” is a light snowfall with the internal turmoil of the characters tucked beneath. With layers of dreaminess and intimacy surveying the sonic scene, “Birch Trees” strikes an ideal balance between sentimentality and positivity.
Handsome Ghost will be touring Europe this fall with Chris Staples. See below for full set of tour dates. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: https://www.handsomestghost.com/tour
Handsome Ghost LP is available at all digital retailers here: https://handsomeghost.ffm.to/handsomeghost
9/18 – Zürich, CH @ El Lokal
9/19 – London, UK @ Oslo
9/20 – Newcastle, UK @ The Grove
9/21 – Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
9/22 – Edinburgh, UK @ Sneaky Pete´s
9/24 – Dublin, IE @ Sugar Club
9/25 – Manchester, UK @ Gullivers
9/27 – Paris, F @ L’Archipel
9/28 – Rotterdam, NL @ Theater Walhalla
9/29 – Berlin, BE @ Zwolle
9/30 – Zwolle, NL @ Theodorakapel
10/1 – Hamburg, DE @ Aalhaus
10/3 – Copenhagen, DK @ Stengade
10/4 – Stockholm, SE @ Kulturhuset Stadsteatern
Comprised of singer/songwriter Tim Noyes and multi-instrumentalist/producer Eddie Byun, Massachusetts duo Handsome Ghost communes in a creative call-and-response, answering each other’s personal and musical confessions, thoughts, and questions sonically. Underpinned by these two perspectives, the music tempers otherworldly production with organic performances, raw arrangements, and nostalgic warmth with future-facing wonder.
Together, they’ve quietly enchanted, engaged, and entranced audiences. In 2014, they shared debut single “Blood Stutter,” which has surpassed 20M streams and initially paved the way for the Steps EP the following year. 2016 saw Handsome Ghost pick up the pace with The Brilliant Glow EP highlighted by the fan favorite “Eyes Wide.” In between touring nonstop, they revealed their 2018 full-length debut Welcome Back, housing “Fool,” “Reckless Love,” and more. On the live performance front, the band has shared stages with the likes of SYML, Yoke Lore, flor, Grizfolk, Frances Cone, In The Valley Below, among others.
In 2020, the pair unveiled Some Still Morning, representing a sonic shift for the band to a more acoustic sound, while still staying true to their roots and Handsome Ghost’s unique sound. The band has been lauded by the likes of Under The Radar, Billboard, NYLON, Relix, Culture Collide, TALKHOUSE, Atwood Magazine, PopDust, American Songwriter, and more.
After amassing over a hundred million streams and receiving widespread acclaim, Handsome Ghost’s self-titled record further cements the band in the alternative/indie-folk space and is a beautiful body of work true to their authentic sound. At the same token, it’s their most personally revealing album to date. The collection of songs touch upon the past, the good old days, the perennial ups and downs of not only being a musician but the trials and tribulations of adulthood. The record was born out of the pandemic, but its themes are universal and explore temporary happiness, fate, feeling out of sync, and more.