Back in the 1990s, Veruca Salt, along with Material Issue, Liz Phair, and Urge Overkill convinced the rest of the world that Chicago had a vibrant music scene. Of course, it was something rock music fans who live here had known for decades. Internal feuding caused Veruca Salt to shatter within three years of releasing its debut American Thighs, although a new version of the band carried on a bit longer. Earlier this year, the original lineup of Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Steve Lack, and Jim Shapiro reunited for some highly regarded live shows in town and released Ghost Notes, their first album together since 1997's Eight Arms To Hold You.
Produced by Brad Wood, who also played a major role in Chicago's emergence in the 1990s, Ghost Notes finds these four musicians operating at full power. The hard-hitting first single, "Laughing In The Sugar Bowl," grabs the listener's attention from its incendiary opening line and proceeds with quick-fire rhymes set to a catchy melody. "The Gospel According To Saint Me" finds Veruca Salt tapping into The Rolling Stones, while "Black And Blonde" sports a massive, psychedelic stomp. Singer-guitarists Gordon and Post effectively weave their voices together throughout; from the hushed approach on "Empty Bottle" to the full-on rage of "Triage."
Veruca Salt uses a start-slow-then-explode approach a lot on Ghost Notes, but also creates the moodier "Prince Of Wales," and "Lost To Me" is all the more powerful for its stark arrangement. The arresting imagery of "The Museum Of Broken Relationships" places it just down the street from Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel." "Come Clean, Dark Thing" takes a more optimistic view of the world than the other tracks here, as Gordon and Post sing, "You can breathe the air again/And care again."