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The Ballet — I Blame Society (2013)

 The Ballet — I Blame Society 2013

The Ballet — I Blame Society
◊  "The Ballet excels in the sort of three-minute ear candy that boys and girls have been writing about each other for ages. That the band members so effortlessly co-opt the form to detail the gay scene is at once more interesting than the same old he-said/she-said and as casually revolutionary only in its universal likeability." — Prefix Magazine
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Album release: June 10, 2013 (UK)
Recording Date: 2009 - 2013
Record Label: Fortuna POP!
Duration:     40:24
Tracks:
01. Alright      (4:12)
02. Cruel Path     (4:31)
03. Difficult Situations      (3:52)
04. Feelings      (4:04)
05. Meaningless      (3:56)
06. Too Much Time      (5:03)
07. Is Anybody Out There?      (4:06)
08. Turn You      (3:51)
09. Sorry      (3:17)
10. All The Way      (3:32)
Members: Greg Goldberg, Craig, Marina, Michael, Ginger Brooks Takehashi, Erica, Ben
CREDITS:
◊  Professor Robyn Autry  Vocal Harmony
◊  Giles Barrett  Mastering
◊  Greg Goldberg  Arranger, Composer, Group Member
◊  Marina Miranda  Group Member
◊  Craig Willse  Group Member
Album Moods: Bittersweet Poignant Sweet Wistful Yearning Dreamy Intimate Literate Melancholy Warm Earnest Gentle Delicate Reflective Precious
Themes: Comfort Picnic Rainy Day
Website: http://www.thepirateship.org/
Greg´s site: http://www.greggoldberg.net/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/theballetnyc
◊  "I am an assistant professor of sociology at Wesleyan University, specializing in media, technology, and popular culture. My research explores how new media technologies transform social and political-economic relations toward novel and often uncertain ends. My work has appeared in New Media & Society, ephemera, and on the Huffington Post." — Greg Goldberg
Review by James Christopher Monger  —  Score: ****
◊  It's nearly impossible to discuss Brooklyn indie pop trio Ballet's third long-player, I Blame Society, without invoking names like Hidden Cameras, Belle & Sebastian, Jens Lekman, and, most importantly, Magnetic Fields. Though they may not be as steeped in the subversive, nursery rhyme witticisms of Stephin Merritt, songs like "Cruel Path," "Difficult Situations," and "All the Way" manage to convey a sort of wounded optimism that, when paired with the simple, Brill Building-inspired electro-pop melodies, makes them feel like kissing cousins to some of Merritt's best offerings. That said, there's more at work here than just an addendum to 69 Love Songs, as The Ballet possess a certain streetwise panache, especially on moodier cuts like "Alright" and "Meaningless," which examine the raw succinctness of love and heartache through the murky prisms of Joy Division and "Sweet Jane"-era Velvet Underground. It's a subtle record that gets under your skin not because it's full of creepy-crawlies, but because it feels intimate in the same way that watching a John Hughes movie makes you feel like your watching your own friends. In fact, the excellent "Feelings," with its simple, questioning refrain of "I still have feelings for you," sounds tailor-made for the credits sequence of an alternate universe Hughes mash-up that sees Pretty in Pink's Ducky jumping into Sixteen Candles hunk Jake Ryan's car, as Molly Ringwald blows kisses to them both with her arms around a triumphant Anthony Michael Hall. (http://www.allmusic.com/)
In french:
◊  Pour amateurs d'indie pop élégante et réussie.
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REVIEW
by Philip Matusavage | 10 June 2013  —  Score: ****
◊  In an age where Scissor Sisters can get a song with origins in the New York drag scene onto Strictly Come Dancing and performed by Sarah Jessica Parker on Glee (Let’s Have A Kiki), the concept of a “DIY queer band” seems almost quaint. Sexuality has always loomed large in the work of The Ballet, a trio who also hail from New York and take great pride in their outsider status. 2006’s charming debut Mattachine! laid out the band’s stall with an opening song about a Gaydar hook-up and featured the self-explanatory Cheating On Your Boyfriend.
◊  It wasn’t all about sex, however – the presence of infectious anti-war track I Hate The War signalled that this band’s notion of queerness was a more pervasive affair, extending into the realms of radical politics and challenging mainstream society. In this way they owed more than a musical debt to their obvious antecedents The Magnetic Fields and The Hidden Cameras, bands who similarly are as familiar with the work of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler as with the lo-fi indie scene.
◊  Those two bands have, of course, moved beyond their origins to build wider followings and in the process have helped pave the way for the mainstream success of unabashed queer acts such as the aforementioned Scissor Sisters. If such cult success has so far eluded The Ballet, third album I Blame Society indicates that they have an eager ambition to step up to the plate. Indeed, in contrast to the CD-R self-distribution of their previous records this album is on label Fortuna POP!, home to such indie-pop favourites as Darren Hayman and Allo Darlin’.
◊  It’s notable, then, that while the title of I Blame Society may allude to The Ballet’s radical sensibilities the music within is easily the most mainstream they have yet put their name to. This manifests itself not only in their most accomplished production to date but in lyrics which are never as direct as they have been previously. Meaningless, for example, has a nuance which is easily lost if you don’t know the band’s history. It opens with lines which allude to the gay marriage fight in the United States (and beyond) — “I’ve got no wedding dress, I’ve got no diamond ring… I guess my love is meaningless”. These lines could easily be taken as a standard plea for ‘marriage equality’ but, as the song expands to more existential questions of life, it becomes clear that singer Greg Goldberg is actually celebrating the freedom which comes with the absence of imposed definition and structure. It’s a song about queer liberation and with this in mind its shuffling gait and ’60s girl group backing vocals take on a greater resonance.
◊  This subtext is present throughout I Blame Society but for the most part it’s obvious that it’s an album intended to be heard by people previously unaware of The Ballet. Its lyrics are carried in big, confident pop songs which fizz with melody and frequently manage the tricky balancing act of being generally appealing while addressing specifically queer themes. Too Much Time, for example, concerns the homophobic religious right yet comes on as quirky ‘us against the world’ anthem, its burbling synths and xylophone proving irresistible. The intriguing Turn You, meanwhile, is appealingly dynamic while offering dark lyrics like “I’m gonna make you sick like me, I’m gonna set your body free”.
◊  The opening Alright makes the dash for more success instantly obvious, roaring out of the gates with pounding Motown-esque drums and strings which recall the brief liaison between McAlmont & Butler. Even more commercial is Feelings, the kind of ’80s new wave anthem which should soundtrack a film featuring Rob Lowe and Molly Ringwald. It’s polished and persuasive stuff but there are moments when the lurch towards the mainstream becomes brazenly derivative — to say that Sorry pays homage to Erasure’s Breath Of Life would be putting it very kindly, while All The Way sounds like a Jesus And Mary Chain tribute band (albeit a very enjoyable one). Still, most of I Blame Society is intelligent, engaging and most importantly hugely listenable. It’s really not a stretch to imagine some of these songs soundtracking a future episode of Glee and, even if that’s unlikely, the possibility is a success in itself for such a previously niche band. (http://www.musicomh.com/)
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REVIEWS
◊  "The 11 cuts on their self-released debut, Mattachine!, are literate, adult, slyly-permissive contemplations on not simply love, but rather modern romance´s quirks and moral ambiguities." — NY Press
◊  "Like cold running down your fingers on a hot day, and you can't keep up with all the drips, so you just let it cry, in bright droplets on the sidewalk." — Said the Gramophone
◊  "In the face of the increasing mainstreaming of gayness, Mattachine! spelunks the often unrevealed vagaries of contemporary queer life. Recalling Holiday-era Magnetic Fields, these songs bop with heady buoyancy, yet are underpinned by complicated butt universal themes: self-deception, infidelity without shame, war fatigue and finding love in a world of online hookups. This is no list of laments; each song celebrates these quandaries with both lyrical and musical gusto." — Time Out New York
◊  "The Ballet has been a band for barely over a year, and they only pressed 200 copies of their debut full-length, which comes packaged in hand-folded envelopes and is totally brilliant, full of adorable, infectious songs that toe a line between 60s bubblegum pop and stylized 90s indie pop. They're fast becoming one of our favorite bands.... Kudos to Brooklyn Vegan for jumping all over these guys a few months back. Their orchestral pop is driven by brilliant melodies you can't believe haven't been used before." — The L Magazine
◊  "After confirming that Voxtrot's singer Ramesh would DJ the show at Syrup Room on June 29th with Land of Talk and Tokyo Police Club, I asked their manager James if he had any suggestions for a third band. He asked if I'd heard of a NYC band called The Ballet. I hadn't. He said their live show is good and Ramesh himself is actually a big fan. So then I checked out their MP3s, and MySpace, and immediately decided to ask them. For fans of Voxtrot, The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian, The Magnetic Fields and other 'sissy pop'." — Brooklyn Vegan
◊  "The Ballet excels in the sort of three-minute ear candy that boys and girls have been writing about each other for ages. That the band members so effortlessly co-opt the form to detail the gay scene is at once more interesting than the same old he-said/she-said and as casually revolutionary only in its universal likeability." — Prefix Magazine
◊  "They have a pleasant, narrative Magnetic Fields/Belle and Sebastian type sound that is almost inoffensive to a fault. Lighthearted music with occasionally dark and dire lyrics layered within. An interesting band, to say the least. One we recommend keeping an eye on as they continue to gain popularity around the city." — Gothamist
◊  "Geeks of the world unite, trade in your Magnetic Fields albums and give this band a listen." — I Rock I Roll
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The Ballet — I Blame Society (2013)

 

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