Five years since Secret Asian Men’s Secrets Beyond the Room full length, the band returns with their second full length Ghost. Between the releases, Secret Asian Men released two EPs and a single with a two year gap between the most recent EP. The eight song album is different from their debut full length, going towards a mellower tone overall. Ghost feels a bit more low key and lo-fi comparatively, but continues the shoegaze influence. It’s a quietly fierce album with a lot of standout songs.
Beginning Ghost with “By My Side,” Secret Asian Men give the impression that the album will feature slow tempo indie rock mixed with folk and shoegaze elements. The song’s slow burn gradually pulls you into Secret Asian Men’s audio universe like an open door.
“C913” is my favorite song on the album. Containing a low distorted guitar with the drums and bass following along, the walking pace tempo gets highlighted through the vocals. There’s no strain or strong push, you just sit and envelop the music. “When Did You See It Coming” slows down the tempo and the English vocals bring you into the track very quickly. Secret Asian Men are experts with tempo and melody as shown on this song.
A switch happens on “Eyes on Sea” with the acoustic guitar introduction. The song is a mix between folk and rock with Sejung Heo‘s vocals gliding over the melody. His voice has a yearning that is heard on every song. I think “Eyes on Sea” is a track that could connect with a lot of people.
Ghost has an ability to use minimalism to produce very deep songs. Instrumentals generally support the vocals, but the depth of use is amazing. Audioscapes feel broad like an ocean even when it’s only a guitar and vocals. Secret Asian Men add another layer on “Letter” with ambient tones that build in the introduction. Percussion sounds programmed, but it could easily be recorded with added samples. “Letter” is the most shoegaze of all the songs on Ghost and a fitting closer to the album.
Secret Asian Men have grown considerably between albums. It was likely apparently through each release, but coming from my last listen of Secrets Beyond the Room, Ghost is something special. The band’s shoegaze influence is readily audible, and the composition overall is excellent. This album is great.