Feel betrayed by Avril Lavigne's transformation on The Best Damn Thing into an upbeat pop-punk cheerleader chick? Try the latest album by this darker-hued Canadian singer, who along with her husband, Raine Maida (frontman of alt-rock also-rans Our Lady Peace), helped Lavigne channel her weird-grrrl angst on Under My Skin. On Ghost Stories, Maida (who produced and co-wrote with his wife) surrounds Kreviazuk's appealingly husky croon with sumptuous strings, ponderous piano, and gloomy guitars. There's not a single "Hey Mickey" beat to be found.
In Ghost Stories' best moments, Kreviazuk and Maida summon a thick goth-pop atmosphere that makes you forget how much fun "Hey Mickey" beats can be. Opener "Ghosts of You" is an aptly spooky slow jam about staying up all night drinking cheap red wine; in "Mad About You," Kreviazuk warns her man not to lie to her while an orchestra tunes up behind her; "Spoke in Tongues" could be Fiona Apple fronting the Cardigans, back when they thought they were an industrial-rock band.
Hang around for the whole album—especially with its pair of bonus tracks, one of which sounds like a demo for the material Kreviazuk and Maida contributed to Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway—and Ghost Stories' elegant melancholy can start to wear on your ears. (Would it be too much to ask for something a bit up-tempo?) Still, Hot Topic tweens too bummed for "Girlfriend" will find plenty to love here.