Album Review: Balthazar – Rats

Steve Buttercase – TCS Guest Reviewer 8 April 2013

Balthazar – Rats

Every now and then I get asked to review an album that is a little bit special and that can stand out from even the most accomplished of crowds. This is one of those albums.

It is a gorgeous, compositionally perfect album exploring both mood and method in a stimulating original way. Like the love of your life turning up unexpectedly on the doorstep on Christmas Eve, this album just improves your day.

Creative, plaintive, poignant and sometimes just plain infectious it is one of those creations that has you searching for influences because it is so familiar you feel it must be copying someone. You can undoubtedly hear The XX, Blur, and even Radiohead. Yet this album succeeds in turning all those influences into subtle enhancers and thus creating a strong underlying sense of itself.

“The Oldest Of Sisters” has had some radio success and deservedly so, and it kicks the album off in good style. The band acknowledge a love of great arrangements and song-writing – they name Serge Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen – and this is evident in every track. Lush arrangements that are never self indulgent or over produced, they adhere to their love of composition even in songs like the funereally paced “Any Suggestion” which echoes OK Computer era Thom Yorke.

My favourite amongst equals is the wonderfully creative “Sides” with its hints of Lou Reed, David Byrne and Brian Eno and more than a nod to The XX…Balthazar may even follow them onto a Mercury shortlist if there is any justice!

All the songs are witty and sharp. Every single one is delivered with an intensity and confidence that points to a successful future.

Tracks to download: The whole thing! But particularly… “Sinking Ship”, “The Man Who Owns The Place”, “Do Not Claim Them Anymore”, “Sides”.

Steve Buttercase – TCS Guest Reviewer