If you’re one of the Ryan Gosling fans who just discovered the actor from Barbie: The Movie, that’s OK. But some of us have known that he’s Kenough since the “Hey Girl” meme and Drive. And if you’re not already hip to it, you deserve to be aware of the Halloween album he released in 2009 with his band Dead Man’s Bones.
Yup. You read that correctly.
On the self-titled record, Gosling and his pal Zach Shields, Hollywood writer and producer of the latest Godzilla movies, play all of the instruments, some of which they learned as they worked on the record. Celebrities, they’re just like us!
Dead Man’s Bones Album Review
The twelve-track album is creepy, dark, and filled with references to the supernatural. Get ready to be transported to the Haunted Mansion or the bottom of a mist-covered swamp full of corpses. Your pick!
The first track is a 50-second introduction that sets us up to take in the eerie songs with a spoken word intro worthy of Edgar Allan Poe. A voice intones: “My suitcase is packed with all your heartbeats” and advocates for finding the magic of life after death.
2. Dead Hearts
“Welcome to a place where nightmares are the best part of my day,” Gosling breathily sings.
“Dead Hearts,” which has a soothing rhythm not unlike a heartbeat, goes on to speak from the point of view of a dead body buried beneath a house’s floorboards.
Unless we’re mistaken, we also detect the sound of glass breaking and some instrumentation not unlike whales mating. Which is all to say the resale value of this place is going down fast.
3. In the Room Where You Sleep
If Dead Man’s Bones had a hit, “In the Room Where You Sleep” was it, with its garage rock style keyboards and sinister crooning vocals warning “you better run.” This is either an ode to our sleep paralysis demon, the bogeyman, or the killer coming from inside the house. Not again.
4. Buried in Water
This tale of a small town buried under water features the effortlessly chilling Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir and an almost oompah beat that makes us want to heft a pint while we listen.
The faint whistling has us checking over our shoulders for ghost children. But, we always do that.
5. My Body’s a Zombie For You
Is that good, Ryan? The title sounds almost romantic but we’re not sure. The song sounds like a 1950s love song with screaming children interrupting it. Nothing better to play at your goth wedding.
6. Pa Pa Power
This track is less Monster Mash and more digital fever dream. The kids’ choir joins in again, but the music has a bit of a 1970s proggy futuristic vibe that makes us think of the original Tron.
7. Young & Tragic
This lyrics of this song consists of one sentence: “I wish that we were magic so we wouldn’t be so young and tragic.” That’s deep, Ryan. So deep. Sorry, we got distracted. What were you saying?
8. Paper Ships
This “dooby doo wah” song is like a doo-wop sea shanty featuring “la la las” from the youngsters.
The cutesy vibe is a bit misleading for this track with lyrics like “I got lost in your graveyard / now I dream on a bed of knives.”
9. Lose Your Soul
“Lose Your Soul” is haunting with a driving beat and hand claps that make it a great tune to blast on the treadmill. Where else are you planning to train for the zombie apocalypse?
10. Werewolf Heart
Tinkling piano, acoustic guitar, and maybe a tambourine lead you into this groovy jam. Despite the swinging beat, it gives more of a poem set to music vibe than a song. You’ve got to love a song about a werewolf that begins with: “You’d look nice in a grave.”
11. Dead Man’s Bones
This lively tune reminds us that anywhere we go (“In the basement!” “In the pavement!”), we’re walking on top of buried bodies. Thanks, guys. The lyrics urging us to “Dig ’em up, Take ’em home” suggest to us that on second thought we shouldn’t ask them to be our next interior decorators.
12. Flowers Grow Out of My Grave
This dreamy retro-sounding ballad is like Ryan saying, “Hey girl. Flowers grow out of my grave when I think about you.” directly in our ears. Until the choir joins in and now we’re thinking about The Omen, The Shining, and every movie with a terrifying little kid.
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