When you mix cerebral post-rock that knows no boundaries when it comes to dishing out a mountainous melody with lush R&B harmonics and an ambient groove pattern taken straight out of a science fiction novel, you get Little Bird’s “gHost,” in all of its magical musical glory. Little Bird aren’t a household name, but they have been churning out some really urbane, psychedelic-tinged R&B over the past few years that has led to widespread attention from the underground journalism community. “gHost” is, in many ways, an amalgamation of their diverse influences and multidimensional talents in an anthological tour de force that is longer than your average pop song but ten times as provocative as anything you’re going to discover occupying the Billboard charts’ top slots this spring.
There’s nothing overdone about this single, but it’s a sonic show of strength on the part of Little Bird without debate. The volume swells as we get deeper into the song and escape the clutches of the opening salvo’s pummel, and though the vocals are velvety and pristine in the mix, that doesn’t stop them from cutting through the melodies in the background and embedding their emotions on anything that gets in their path. There’s a ton of low-end altering the gravity in the drum track, but we never fear being trampled by the slow motion stampede of percussion, even at its most irrepressible. The fluorescence in the harmonies makes the lyrics a lot statelier than they would have been against a black and white backdrop, which on its own is an impressive concept usually unutilized by Little Bird’s closest rivals.
The vocal track is soft as snow (and equally as bright and evocative when it catches the menacing hue of the bassline), but the music that it’s layered over is tempered by an uneven grit, generating a contrast that is as enthralling as anything else in “gHost” is. Little Bird have constructed some mind-bending arrangements for us in the past, but I don’t know that they’ve ever pushed themselves as far as they do in this song. They’re not hesitating to crank the volume on aspects of their instrumentation that some groups might look at as too abrasive for mainstream airplay, and the fact that they come off as confident in doing so says a lot about their artistic character as a band.
I wasn’t super familiar with the work of Little Bird before hearing “gHost” for the first time in this last week or so, but after becoming wholly fascinated by its illustrious structure and tasty tonality, saying that I’ve become a big fan might be a bit of an understatement. A lot of different bands make their way to my desk in the course of any given year, but 2019 has yet to give me anything nearly as eccentric, or self-aware, as this single is. They might not have been on my radar to begin with, but you can guarantee that I’ll be following Little Bird as they press on in their thrillingly unpredictable campaign.