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Ghostbear’s “Persona Chroma” Is A Wonderful Potpourri Of Sonic Expression

For Toronto-based outfit Ghostbear, music is the ultimate form of expression.

Their newest album, the eclectic ‘Persona Chroma,’ manifests their artistic integrity and ability to remain true unto themselves. They describe “Persona Chroma” as an alternative potpourri of songs, a wonderful mix of songs, some sad, some happy, and some in between.

Their sound cannot be easily described, but they combine the goodness of classic alternative rock with expertly crafted sonic synths and elements of indie and even soul. For the lovers of alternative rock and those pushing the boundaries of alternative, “Persona Chroma” is sure to be a satisfying listen.

‘Persona Chroma’ opens with good old rock n roll on “Unity Strain Motion.” As an opening track, “Unity Strain Motion” feels like an epic herald of things to come. Dropping lines like “Cry if you want to / shine if you want to,” Ghostbear alludes to infinite possibilities before seeping into the groovy ear candy of “Shoe Gaze Man.”

As Ghostbear sings, “Oh to be in the arms/shoegaze man,” every riff flows seamlessly from one to the next as vocals meld in and out. By the conclusion, there’s the feeling that you could be searching - or heading to a destination not yet specified. However, it's all about the journey, right? And the journey’s been fantastic so far. However, the end of “Shoe Gaze Man” marks the beginning of a shift. Ghostbear’s sound mellows significantly from hear, starting from “Sudden Voices.” As Ghostbear drops lyrics like “Sudden voices in our head / and hear the rise, a flashing light / strong enough for us to fight / sudden voices in our head tonight,” there’s a feeling of intense melancholy. After the relative lows of “Sudden Voices,” “Campus Code” brings a slight shift, akin to the changing seasons.

Although there is still a slight sense of melancholy, a slight shift of rhythm seems to indicate a change. Although lines like “Solo nights drenched in despair / I wait for you to call, you don't care” indicate the struggle continues, there is a sense of acceptance and almost defiance as the lines, “but you don’t care,” are repeated. “We’d like to thank Frank” continues the progression of sound with some sonic new wave synths. Lines like “For all that you do / for all that we put you through / well this one’s for you! / We’d like to thank, Frank” bring a shift in focus along with the shift in sound and instead portrays feelings of what feels like intense gratitude. However, “Twilight” brings another shift. The fierce and intense instrumentals bring the feeling that we’re snapping out of a dream and getting back to business. Although “Twilight” has no spoken words, it perfectly transitions to “Drop Your Pants and Dance,” which feels like sunshine at the end of a dark tunnel. Things feel considerably lighter. Lyrics like “I think we should just drop our pants in the street and dance again” feel like a commitment by Ghostbear not to take themselves too seriously and just have fun with it.

The familiar feelings of melancholy pop up again in “Happy Apart,” although there is more balance this time. Although lyrics like “we’ll find out, either way, / I shoulda known from the start / that we would be happy apart” do convey sadness, unlike “Sudden Voices,” which almost felt defeatist, “Happy Apart” shows poise and maturity. It will be what it will be. Keeping with the feeling of growth, “Infinicity” returns to the groove. It feels more upbeat. Lyrics like “Everything is black, everything is white / there's no room for flea, no room for fight” further show a progression in the journey “Persona Chroma” has been taking us on, and feels like another step of maturity. It feels like Ghostbear is rising above the bullshit and overcoming. It’s just as well, as they conclude their sonic journey with “All our time (Fuggin' it up),” which feels like a balanced note to end on. Familiar feelings of melancholy return, but it’s balanced by positive energy.

As the lines “So forget all that's past / it’s this day that lasts” bring an end to ‘Persona Chroma,’ there’s the distinct feeling that something beautiful has come to an end. As we said earlier, it’s all about the journey, right? ‘Persona Chroma’ is a journey worth taking.

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Ghostbear! Wow, just wow. 'Persona Chroma' felt like an epic musical journey. Everything felt so well put together! We have to ask, what was the inspiration behind this album?

We tried to free ourselves from outside expectations on this album and recorded what we felt were great songs. Inspiration for a song could evolve from our sense of humour or deep seeded trauma and everything in between. In reality, we wanted to make an album that was an ode to the band WEEN. Their albums are a potpourri of songs, but it always seems to sound like the band.

You mentioned you’re based in Toronto. What’s the music scene like there, and how has it influenced Ghostbear’s artistic growth and identity?

Toronto has a lot of talent, but the music scene is in a lull right now. I think the covid lockdowns hurt the city's vibe, and it doesn’t feel lively right now. Toronto has some massive international artists, but the indie scene needs to re-emerge. But I think it slowly bounced back and started to develop the scene it once had. We have faith!

What was each of your favourite parts of bringing 'Persona Chroma' to life? What was the vision for this album? Dan: I loved that we laughed through the whole process. Also, the relative ease of the project made me confident we were on the right path.

Rob: My favourite part was the unconventional structure of the songwriting process and how much of our personality came through. Every idea was given a chance, came from a different approach, yet was never overworked.

Frank: The recording process was a blast. I learned a lot, and it all felt organic.

How would you describe your sound to new listeners, and are there any particular songs they should look out for on 'Persona Chroma?'

We think listeners will notice that our songs can turn in any direction. We are a rock band at our core but don’t be surprised to hear many genres from song to song and sometimes genre shifting within the songs. SHOEGAZE MAN is a perfect example of us weaving different styles together to make a cohesive piece.

What’s next for Ghostbear? Do you have any big plans for the rest of the year? We have a lot of new and exciting material. No two songs will sound the same. We have silly songs about guys named Frank, morbid covers of Kylie Minogue songs and heartfelt breakup ballads. Plus, we are planning a short run of live shows this summer.


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