Monday, 8 July 2013

Danny Malone - Balloons

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


Bands and artists often choose to record at specific locations and even at specific times of day in order to try and replicate something of that atmosphere in their music. It's true that your brain works differently depending on the these factors, which is why we have expressions like "in the cold light of day". It's difficult to tell exactly how much of a difference this makes when it comes to music, as albums and songs are usually recorded once (as in the final recording, not counting demos and live takes), but the choice of a haunted castle in Denmark for Texan Danny Malone must have meant he had a certain idea in mind for the ambiance of new record 'Balloons'. It would be the waste of a very long journey otherwise (although it does sound like a incredible experience).

This isn't a record about ghosts and ghouls and getting spooked by the supernatural, Danny himself describes it as "sexy, dirty, sad songs about the human condition". In this respect a haunted castle seems perfect. We may not have a full understanding of ghosts and what they are and whether they really exist, but we maybe have even less understanding of the human condition. It's something that's puzzled philosophers for thousands of years, so maybe that kind of atmosphere would open up the mind to new ways of thinking. Whatever happened, it's resulted in a good album, so was worth the effort. You may already be familiar with excellent (and, in this instance, slightly spooky) single 'Spiderlegs', but there are more songs here that show Malone's weight as a songwriter. It may be the age old guy-with-a-guitar that forms the foundations to these songs, but it's what's added to them that gives them more life.

There's a big tune in 'Sugarwater', a song with definite single potential, although this is light and breezy and sounds more like it was recorded in California, 'Middle names' follows suit, and musically 'Lee Woke Me Up' is also sunnier than you might expect, although the lyrics tell a different story. There's a darker undercurrent to 'White White Light' which recalls Elliot Smith and even Daniel Johnston, and the picked 'San Diego' shows off those raw songwriting skills. The album as a whole has points that can be compared to other classic songwriters. For example, 'Fly In The Window' has a hint of Paul Simon to it, the ending to 'Fall Back Plan' must have been inspired by The Beach Boys, but what 'Balloons' boils down to is an example of well-written songs that have been handled with care and given just enough augmentation. Whether our imagined image of a desolate and creepy recording location is true or not, this isn't a bleak or desolate album. Songs like 'Wait On Me' are simply well-written alt-rock/pop numbers, and although some of the subject matter mightn't be as happy as the sounds it comes wrapped in, 'Balloons' is an easy album to like and a very good one at that.





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