To Repel Ghosts is the debut album from Mexico City’s emerging noise pop unit, Howless. This is an album that grapples with big themes, an album that suggests nervous foreboding and strikes different levels of consciousness. 35 minutes of beautifully crafted noise pop, consisting of eight dynamic songs that perfectly represent the sonic depth and magnitude of Latin America’s newest indie darlings.
“Levels” is the lead single and the second track on the album; a crash intro of chimey guitar paired with arpeggiated synthesizers, and 808 tom fills, gives way to an up beat rhythm and hook, leading to a strong memorable chorus, revealing a strength of natural pop song writing. Quite easily a song that could have been included on the NME C86 mixtape with writing that was influenced by the lyrical meaning from “Goodbye Horses” by William Garvey. “Transcendence over those who see the world only as earthy and finite.”
“Rain and Ice” is the second single, a heavy low notation synth lead-in creates an atmospheric & moody staging for a recurring apocalyptic dream-theme. The track is sonically dark & also pushes in a heavier direction without losing melody or hookiness. Blistering guitar is brought to the front entwined with the languid duo vocals and elusive lyrics of Dominique Sanchez and Mauricio Tinejro. Beguiling yet distant, sustaining a dreamlike feeling, a punchy beat is the pulse that keeps the ghostly melodicism evoked until the end.
“Unlucky” was an obvious selection for Howless and for the label, to be the 3rd single off the album, representing the power of a pop song. Classic punchy drums kick in the thick driving bass line, as shimmering keys drift through to sparkling guitar that cloaks the song in a beautiful glistening tone. Dominique Sanchez’s haunting ethereal vocals seamlessly float over layers of beautiful, noisey saturation, lyrically making reference to human self sabotage and the manifestation of one’s own bad luck, that is based on bad decision making.
Combining suavity and the maturity of seasoned writers, while revealing the strength of the band’s composition skills, To Repel Ghosts is an album that is seamless throughout, with each song easily transitioning into the next. “Fade Out” is such a banger, an especially good choice for the lead track. DJ’s and taste-makers alike will be sure to save this track for their best playlists. Four on the floor tracks such as “Shadow Blind” and “Color Mess” lean deep into a 90’s UK club atmosphere, a heavy psychedelic cloud hangs low & the beat keeps moving us.
“People Walk Away,” the last offering from the record, features lyrical minimalism that can evoke deep thought. This song was inspired from a small fragment of poetry by Pascal. A reference about questioning our place on earth and the bitterness of saying goodbye to someone who hasn’t yet left your psyche.
To Repel Ghosts is a very well thought out and cohesive record, one could assume that it was created with longevity in mind. With an imminent need to materialize beliefs, skepticism, expectations and day-to-day anxieties, Howless aspires to generate their own sound while not seeking to replicate.