Skip to main content

Downes Braide Association: Suburban Ghosts

Passionate and personal pop-prog indictment of Thatcher’s Britain?

This second Downes-Braide is a different beast to their lively pop-prog debut.

Suburban Ghosts reflects upon personal dislocation from the duo’s childhood world in Cheshire and late 70s and 80s British social history. Much is geared towards conjuring up echoes of that time, from the cover graphics to the keyboard sounds and programmed drums. The deliberate lack of extraneous instrumentation (a guitar solo from XTC/Big Big Train’s Dave Gregory excepted) focuses the listener perhaps towards the impressive Chris Braide and his affecting melodies and astute lyrics. Hints of The Pet Shop Boys pervade Machinery of Fate and Suburban Ghosts Pt.3; there’s a Tears For Fears quality to North Sea. Short piano-heavy tracks like Vanity and Interlude would sit happily on recent Yes albums, and passionate cry to the hopeless One Of The Few could almost be a Buggles track. However, both the songwriting and Braide’s voice provide an identity that transcends all these reference points. The album’s success doesn’t stem from any techno-flash (which it largely lacks). but rather in its personal reflections on the past and evocations of an era’s musical and social landscape.

Gary has contributed reviews and news features for Prog Magazine for over a decade now. A fan of prog and heavy rock since childhood, his main areas of interest are classic and symphonic prog, prog-metal and modern acts bringing in fresh influences to the genre. He has a professional background in youth and community work, he teaches drum kit in schools and is a working musician. Gary was the drummer in semi-legendary NWOBHM band Praying Mantis for a couple of years and has been a member of indie-prog-pop-art-rock combo The Mighty Handful for more than twenty years. He loves cats and skiing, and has a Blue Peter badge.