The Ballet come close to being the perfect band with the perfect album. A host of interesting influences and sounds come together in I Blame Society to create beautiful tunes.
Seriously, someone could have read the phone directory over the top of these tunes and still scored highly. It’s just sad that they didn’t.
I truly love the opening bars of the album on the track Alright. I also love the chilled out Meaningless and poppier Too Much Time – tracks with 80s throwback keyboard settings and tropes. Meanwhile, Cruel Path evokes Joy Division and Sonic Youth and All The Way is a bit Mary Chain-ish.
At times the tunes are hauntingly sad. At others laid back, and yet others they sound like The Cure with extra electronic wiffles (such as on Is There Anybody Out There?). Feelings moves into more upbeat territory, and that’s fine. It leavens the laid back mournfulness.
Obviously this album has ‘credible indie music for Peugeot ad’ written all over it. In part this is because at times the talented flaunting of musical influences begins to sound like plagiarism or even pisstake. For example, anyone who has listened to The Moog Cookbook will be at home with the tune to Sorry.
And what’s more, there’s an elephant in the recording studio. It’s the old auto-tune elephant once again. Only it’s no longer an elephant, it’s a virus. An epidemic. Your ears are at risk on pretty much EVERY SINGLE TRACK. The subtly leaden out-of-kilter voice setting leads me to suspect the lead singer’s voice simply isn’t up to it. Surely they didn’t deliberately have created an entire album of songs spoilt by a vocoder set to a soullessly atonal Stephen Malkmus?
It’s sad that by the end of a musically, lyrically excellent album that there has been no let-up from Mr Voice Modulation. As the last track All The Way faded it left me so incredibly tired and frustrated. Please, somebody tell me if there’s a way to scrape vocals off an MP3 file. It would make me so happy.
With I Blame Society, The Ballet skirt with perfection. But they have made very large musical error. They only have themselves to blame.