Despite the emotional weight that surrounded Glory Hope Mountain, there was always something joyful about the music and the message contained. The optimistic struggle of adversity found in ‘Crooked Legs’ seemed to me to sum up its intent, a jumble and tumble of percussion and glockenspiels, and a breathtaking lyric recounting the woes of age, led by the light of a melody. “Will I follow you home again”, they sang on ‘Oh Napoleon’, and we dutifully followed, soaking up the emotion and love Rolf Klausner so clearly felt for his mother. It was an album that took some effort, but multiple listens peeled away the layers of something very special.
That was three years ago, and after two years of touring The Acorn took a decision to isolate themselves, taking up residency in a cottage in Northern Quebec to work on the material that became what they consider to be the final piece in a trilogy of albums that started with The Pink Ghosts. However, this is a fair more exuberant collection of songs than its predecessor. Lead single ‘Restoration’ shows a tightness that was less evident on ‘Crooked Legs’, the sound of a band revelling in the intimacy of playing together.
Inclusion is something The Acorn excel at, this feeling that there are no outsiders here, that everyone is welcome, that there are no barriers. The beguiling ‘Slippery When Wet’ is sweet, but never twee, exuding a campfire warmth. ‘Misplaced’ also is the equal of any of their quieter moments from Glory Hope Mountain, but again with more cohesion, a greater sense of togetherness within the band, from the faultless harmonies to the space each of the musicians allow each other, granting them all the opportunity to shine and to breathe.
This reaches its high point on the powerful ‘I Made The Law’, an off kilter drum that scorches into tremendous guitar chords, themselves erratic and tottering on the edge of normality. It seems driven by a desire for clarity, the production kept clear and crisp and free of artifice, the silence ringing before the askew melody of ‘Crossed Wires’ snaps you back to normality.
The Acorn have easily bettered Glory Hope Mountain with No Ghost, but this is something that will not be fully realised with the first listen. It feels in some respects like an extension rather than a dramatic progession of their previous album, full of a sense of familiarity and welcome. Clocking in just over 37 minutes, there is also brevity here, which in a way is a good thing. There is no fat on this album, no useless gristle, just a collection of eleven well-honed, beautiful songs.