Sometimes a title is all you need to let you know exactly what an album is about. Obaro Ejimiwe, better known as Ghostpoet, is an artist that seems to completely understand this. Debut album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam was a suitably introspective and mournful album that charted low-income love and the brutal banality of everyday. 2015’s Shedding Skin was a reinvention, not only as Ghostpoet ditched beats for a live band, but as he took the listener through the stages of loss and renewal. For Dark Days + Canapés, Ghostpoet’s fourth album, Ejimiwe presents himself as a man with the weight of the world’s woes on his shoulders as he struggles with urban ennui.

The album opens with groan, before introducing glitchy, electronic percussion and pitch-shifted vocals. Whilst this opening harkens back to Ghostpoet’s first two albums, this is something of a misdirection. Whilst it does draw from electronic music, Dark Days + Canapés primarily focuses on developing the band-based sound of Shedding Skin into something inherently darker and grittier. The guitars alternate between moody melodies and taut riffs, while the rhythm section is more methodical. Above all of this is Ejimiwe himself, delivering smart, wry lyrics in his familiar deepen delivery straddling the line between singing and spoken word.

‘Trouble + Me’ is an early standout, with Ejimiwe taking on the role of a modern troubadour, directing a tale of introspective melancholy. Verses are driven by a slow, winding bass riff with strummed acoustic guitar added occasionally. It’s a song that adopts a rather cyclical structure, with the main variations being whether certain instruments make an appearance or not, which fits the song’s themes of inescapable repetition.

Many of the tracks draw from a similar stylistic template. ‘Many Moods At Midnight’ leans heavily on loud and fairly grandiose piano chords, distorted guitars and John Carpenter style synthesizers, to weave a modernist horror tale of isolation. ‘Woe Is Meee’ meanwhile, enlists Massive Attack’s Daddy G to deliver a brooding blues number that utilises a seductive bass line and quiet percussion along with gradually intensifying guitars.

The album draws from much heavier influences as well. Tracks like ‘Immigrant Boogie’ have a propulsive post-punk bent, while ‘Karoshi’ leans closer to industrial with distorted, echoing guitars intermingling with feedback. These tracks are spread across the album, offering a visceral counterpoint to the quieter, moodier tracks that make up the bulk of the album. The benefit here is that the album, whilst still thematically connected, has a lot more variety and manages to balance the introspective soul-searching with fuck-it-all aggression that in isolation would quickly wear thin.

Dark Days + Canapés is quite simply Ghostpoet’s most accomplished record to date. As lyrically smart as his debut, and building on three albums’ worth of musical experimentation, it feels like Ejimiwe has finally found his niche. As gloomy as that niche might be, it never feels like a slog getting through the record. For all Ejimiwe’s world-weary delivery, by the end of Dark Days + Canapés it feels less like giving in to the weight of the world, than a cleansing of the soul.