You may have noticed that life is suffering. Ghostpoet – also known as Obaro Ejimiwe – certainly has. I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is the fifth album from the Mercury Prize-nominated musician, and is entirely dedicated to building a mood that’s familiar to us all right now: the sense that things are very, very bad and will inevitably become worse.
Starting with ‘Breaking Cover’, with its Talking Heads-style off-kilter guitar and propulsive bass, moving through the siren-sounding synths of ‘Concrete Pony’ to the beautifully-controlled drum fills of ‘When Mouths Collide’, Ghostpoet builds the sound of a stifled struggle through life. The atmosphere is emphasised by snippets of mournful lyricism, dealing with both the mundane miseries (watching the news) and the extreme (swan-diving off a cliff).
Listening to an album this bleak, during a time this bleak, might be a little much for some. Yet if, like me, you find comfort in sharing despair, this is a highly rewarding, haunting experience, one that really grapples with the difficulties of keeping calm and carrying on. At many points Ejimiwe’s vocals become just haunting rhetorical questions: Where do we go from here? What becomes of me? Like many of us Ejimiwe is so tired; like many of us, he cannot sleep.