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.