St. Catherine's Home for Lazy Infants "Old Ghosts"
The memorably-named St. Catherine's Home for Lazy Infants is the solo project of Dublin's Alex Synge, who shares a surname with a well-known Irish writer. For this release, Synge offers up nine tracks that fly by in under a half hour. Beginning promisingly with the moody "Tangled Hair", the disc settles quickly into its template thereafter--chord progressions are played on guitar or synth, assisted by backwards-guitar melodies, helped along by chiming piano parts and a varying number of droning electric guitars. Tunes like "The Pull of the Earth" and "Whiskey Blanket" aim right for the heartstrings but come off as more sentimental than sad. Even when a xylophone appears suddenly in "The Gift" it merely recreates the same melodic accents that are played by piano on earlier tracks.
There is a sense of preciousness that is automatically encouraged by song titles like "Till Every Motion, Pulse, and Breath Be Over...", and Synge matches this weighty title with fairly maudlin, church-organ keyboards. Disc closer "It's OK" finishes things up on a fairly indistinct and formulaic note, walking on similar paths, accompanied by ever-present backwards guitar.
"Old Ghosts" is undermined by its formulaic nature-- the music seems split between a desire for emotional impact and a desire to experiment with different textures. Ultimately this music just sits there, unchanging, after its mood has been established. 5/10 -- Mike Griffin (10 March, 2010)