Four separate hazy, distorted images of each person in Touched by Ghoul
Credit: Chris Hershman

Can some people subconsciously sense what the future holds? It’s fun to consider, especially in the context of something as good-natured as the new second album by Chicago art-rockers Touched by Ghoul: it bears the unintentionally prophetic title Cancel the World. Vocalist and guitarist Angela Mullenhour (formerly of Sybris), guitarist Andrea Bauer (formerly of the Reader), bassist Alex Shumard, and drummer Paige Sandlin tracked the record at Electrical Audio in summer 2019, mixed it in January 2020, and a couple months later . . . well, you know what happened. The album follows 2016’s joyfully twisted Murder Circus, which was inspired by slasher flicks—doomed protagonists, corpses, and all. But Cancel the World casts off that narrow focus for a broader mix of sounds and subject matter, rooted in everyday frustrations and experiences (though the unhurried indie jam “Lost at the Costco” does bring to mind a couple real-life horror stories). Punk ripper “Better Than Me” is catchy enough to stick in your head for days, and “Yacht Problems” embraces the band’s noise-rock foundations. With the world slightly less canceled (at least for now), Touched by Ghoul will ring in 2022 by playing a headlining set at Liar’s Club, giving fans a chance to hear songs from Cancel the World live after a nearly two-year wait. With any luck they’ll also acknowledge the end of the holiday season by breaking out the hilariously jaded carols from their two-song 2020 EP Christmas Sluts—“Hey Old Man” includes the refrain “Merry Christmas and a big ‘fuck you’ / Silver bells, well fuck them too.”

Touched by Ghoul, Boybrain, Lollygagger, Heet Deth, Fri 12/31, 9 PM, Liar’s Club, 1665 W. Fullerton, $26.50, 21+