My Own Sweet, 'Ghosts I Knew' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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My Own Sweet, 'Ghosts I Knew'

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(Self-released, digital)

When I looked at My Own Sweet's discography, I did a double take. That's because their latest record, Ghosts I Knew, comes 22 years after their last release, 2000's now-ironically named Same Time Next Year.

That realization flummoxed me. Having moved to Burlington in 2001, I just missed out on My Own Sweet, who disbanded the same year Same Time Next Year came out. The band's Queen City heyday was the late '90s, part of a strong indie-rock scene that included the likes of Wide Wail, Chin Ho! and the Pants.

I've read that in the height of the pandemic, many people reached out to old friends and ex-lovers, caught between the general anxiety of the times and nostalgia, bred from a lot of time alone with little else to do but think. Some of My Own Sweet's musicians seem to be among them.

In an email accompanying the new record, the band revealed that it reconnected on Easter Sunday in 2020, when one of the members sent out a group text, asking, "Could we try and write a song?" That song became the four-song EP Ghosts I Knew, which My Own Sweet recorded over two years, using GarageBand and videoconferencing to collaborate while in isolation.

The result is a collection of retro indie rock that sounds like it came right off the WRUV playlist in 1998. Opening track "What the Tide May Bring" begins with a Replacements-like, easy chug of glassy guitars and shimmering vocals. Vocalist Chris Kelly sings, "What if they took the best of our years / Bottled 'em up and saved them for some future ideal self," an oddly fitting lyric, considering band's hiatus.

A prevailing emotional tone threads through the songs on Ghosts I Knew. Like some prodigal son returned home, My Own Sweet seem to be looking at familiar terrain with eyes changed by time and age. "Text Me When It's Over" and "Snowfences" feel like songs written with an added dash of world-weariness.

Musically, My Own Sweet have remained remarkably faithful to their college-rock sound from decades ago. Dwelling somewhere between the alt-pop of bands such as the Dandy Warhols and the slacker indie vibe of Pavement, the four-piece maintains those sonic ideals, though the punk edge of Same Time Next Year has gentled with age.

"Tell Me What You Think" closes out the EP and masterfully encapsulates the feeling of checking in with an old friend. "And each time we go farther," Kelly and Tim Lauben sing together, "it makes you feel honest / Always be there for you."

Maybe that's My Own Sweet's way of acknowledging the years since we last heard from them. Either way, it's good to have them back in Burlington's new music. Let's hope it doesn't take another 20 years and a pandemic to get the band back into the studio.

Listen to Ghosts I Knew at myownsweet.bandcamp.com.