Album Review: Voodoo Bloo – The Blessed Ghost

Voodoo Bloo are an alternative rock four-piece based in Wellington, New Zealand, fronted by Sheffield-born Rory MacDonald. They released their debut album Jacobus back in 2020, and have just followed it up with their second, written during an unexpected low moment following their first album’s completion and release. The Blessed Ghost is twelve tracks that are one part therapy, one part fictionalised love story and one part self-discovery.

By Graeme Smith

Feature photo by Vincent Gabriel

The Blessed Ghost starts with the “younger then” half of its title track. There’s an improvised feel about its spoken word intro which instantly makes you feel you are being invited into Voodoo Bloo’s world. I was reminded of US alternative Americana act Bright Eyes, who deliberately start their albums on an unconventional note in order to deter casual listeners. Yet, the effect is opposite here. The intro draws you in powerfully.

Two and a half minutes in, things become a little more conventional, with a raw, acoustic guitar melody and pleasing, expressive vocals. It cruises comfortably into the bass-led intro of Pursuit. The track explodes into a full rock arrangement that draws equally from ’90s grunge and ’00s melodic metal. All I could really say two tracks in was that I hadn’t quite got a handle on Voodoo Bloo’s sound but I was certainly intrigued.

We’re Here, Love Is Somewhere Else kicks up the tempo with a sense of urgency and despair. There’s a relatability in the lyrics. This is one for life’s low moments. It’ll help you shake off the gloom. It’s an early highlight.

Rhubarb And Custard slows things back down, providing a gentle, pensive interlude before the indie rock one-two punch of Default and Skin round off the album’s first half. Voodoo Bloo draw from such a range of influences, their sound is difficult to pigeon-hole. The Blessed Ghost’s mood comes through loud and clear though. I found myself feeling everything Rory did while he was writing it.

For Asterisk (Still WIP, don’t listen yet) opens the album’s second half in a meta fashion. It’s a slow, deliberate piece of grunge rock where Rory’s vocals are particularly mournful. Tomorrow Person has a brighter feel, with echoing Britpop style guitar and an optimistic outlook.

Ritalin is rich with Radiohead-esque experimentation. Looping guitar is paired with plodding bass which build to a release of tension in the chorus. It really pushes the band’s sound and proves to be another highlight.

The album’s final few tracks are kicked off by previously released single Small. It’s an approachable piece of indie rock that contrasts Ritalin without feeling incongruent. It’s followed by the second part of The Blessed Ghost (Older now). It returns to the stripped-back acoustic approach of the album opener, providing a quiet moment of reflection before the album’s finale.

That finale is Continuous Stimulus. It’s a track that ties together the themes, sounds and messages of what has come before it nicely. There’s grunge, experimentation, confessional lyrics and moments of catharsis. It does perhaps the best thing an album closer can do: it leaves the listener hungry for more. That’s certainly how I felt when I finished The Blessed Ghost. I’ll be poring through Voodoo Bloo’s back catalogue for sure.

You can listen to the whole of The Blessed Ghost below.