Day 42: Ghost Mice – Europe

11 Apr


Concept albums are strange things.  They attempt to convey a story of some sort in the form of a musical record.  This can be a pretty tough thing to do because of the strict song structures that bands usually adhere to, things like having choruses  and verses.  Rhyming is usually kind of important too.  Because of all of those restrictions, the concept in an album can sometimes fall flat.  With Europe, Ghost Mice decide not to let established ideas of what is or is not a song interfere with their concept.

In early 2000, Ghost Mice members Chris Johnston and Hannah Jones decided to take a trip to Europe, without any plans or reservations, and only enough money to spend $10 a day.  Europe tells the story of that journey.  While it sounds to me like the trip itself was miserable, its stories do make for a pretty good album.

It turns out that some great stories can come out of a couple of Americans wandering around Europe, camping on the sides of roads, and relying on hitchhiking to get around (don’t worry, according to the liner notes, Chris heard “rumors that it was easy and safe” over there.)  Europe definitely could have fallen flat if Ghost Mice had decided to conform to established song structures.  Ghost Mice doesn’t conform to anything though. “We are anarchists” can be found in the liner notes as well.  Fortunately, Johnston’s stream-of-conscious-style delivery gets their entire story out.  Every now and then, they’ll throw a rhyme or some repetition in just for good measure.

Sure, it’s unconventional.  Sure, the actual trip seems like a bad idea to me.  Yeah, the talk of soy ice cream (they’re vegans, of course) can get a little annoying.  Ultimately, though, Europe is definitely a solid album, as strange as it is.


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