Review ·
John Ralston looks like the kind of guy who’d crash on the couch unannounced and skate out three days later after making out with your girlfriend and drinking all the beer in the refrigerator. The songs on Sorry Vampire, Ralston’s second release for Vagrant, exhibit the kind of slow, mellow charm that made her want him in the first place. Ralston blends soulful strumming, warbled lyrics, and smatterings of atmospheric noise into a poppy confection that indicates more about Ralston’s personal charm than his skill as a musician. The result is pleasant enough, but the songs basically blur into one another and then fade away.

The twelve songs here are relatively interchangeable: a couple of blips of noise followed by a few guitar chords that merge into an ambling, drum-machine-driven melody. Ralston adds some Pet Sounds harmonies on “Ghetto Tested” and “When I Was a Bandage,” but these moments of inspiration rise and fall back into the relentless acoustic tide. His delivery is catchy, yet the words float into the great forever seconds after they leave the speakers. The cleverness of “When I Was a Bandage” and “I Guess I Wasted My Summer Now” ends with the titles.

Ralston exhibits a lot of charisma throughout the record, but he’s working in a pretty crowded field. Sorry Vampire does nothing to offend, but Ralston’s muted take on electronic indie-pop fails to make a definitive statement.


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What a lazy review. Your ad hominem opening couldn't be less revealing about the artist or record.

But it's reveals a lot about you, Mike. What a looser.

Next time, try listening to a record more than once.


What a lazy comment. Your ad hominem opening couldn't be less revealing about the critic or review.
But it's reveals a lot about your grammar and seplling, WAslgn. What a loooser.
Next time, try reading the review more than once.


I did. The review is way off the mark.


But your comment couldn't be more original, elielieli. Nice work!


WAslgn, what did you like about the record?


Sorry Vampire is simply brilliant. I got the record when it first came out and haven't been able to stop listening to it. I listen to the new Band of Horses, Pinback or sometimes Spoon albums for a break, but I keep coming back to Sorry Vampire. Again and again. It really is unlike any record I've ever heard. It's just a musically mind blowing album.
It's fresh and different. Musically challenging. Lyrically intelligent. And sonically inspiring. Quite honestly, in this era of cookie cutter, musically vapid, lyrically insipid, wholly unoriginal records, Sorry Vampire stands out as one of the best albums I've heard in many years.
Songs like "Fragile," "A Small Clearing," "No One Loves You Like I Do," and "Second Hand Lovers." have a heavier, denser sound and pounding rock grooves. They're powerful, exciting, and full of impact. In contrast, songs like "Haven't Missed You All My Life", "Beautiful Disarmed", and "Where You Used To Sleep" have a sparser, sometimes lush, more open sound, with drum grooves reminiscent of hip hop. But in truth, the whole album front to back is one beautiful musical journey that keeps me coming back, because each listen reveals something new.
What's cool is how Ralston keeps you on your musical toes with his incredibly quirky instrument choices. But in the context of the musical landscape he's created they work incredibly well together. And Ralston is also one of the best lyricists I've heard in a very long time. They're smart, clever and moving. Always making me want to listen again so I can understand better what he's singing about.
Ralston's clearly vocally influenced by Elliot Smith, but there are many musical forces at play on Vampire, including Brian Wilson, The Cure, The Shins, Springsteen, Arcade Fire, Beatles, Dylan, Smashing Pumkins, Small Sins, Coldplay, and Townes Van Zandt. What's amazing is how Ralston is able to coalesce these disparate influences into a cohesive sound that is entirely his own.
To be clear, we're not talking wholesale borrowing. What Ralston does is just pull a thread or two from each weaving them into a musical world you've never heard before. You feel transported to an alien land without ever feeling alienated. Somehow Ralston manages to make the record sound both beautiful and intense. It's jarring and unexpected, but also lush, warm and inviting. I've really never experienced anything like it.
John Ralston clearly has vision. Sorry Vampire is a fully realized, musically mature, lyrically inspired, sonically rich, epochal masterpiece. And it's gonna be on my ipod for a very long time.


But what did you LIKE about it?

Jonathan Wilkins

Seriously though, that opening paragraph sounds like you're speaking from experience... as if Ralston actually slept on your couch, stole your girlfreind (HAHAHAHAHA), and lit a cigarette by setting your Dungeon Master (vintage '80s and dogeared at Chapter 9: Sexy Dark Elves) book on fire.

What I read into your review is the following...

"John Ralston looks a certain way, so F*CK HIM!"

Review the music, not your perception of the artist.

And stop dropping "Pet Sounds" into a review just because you hear a (GASP!) layered vocal harmony or (OHHHH!) glockenspiel... you obviously don't get paid by the word.

Jonathan Wilkins

they aren't pet sound hamonies you *******, they are beach boys harmonies


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