Over the last few years, synthpop acts that bleed across into indie pop or indie rock has gathered more and more momentum and I’ve really enjoyed all the different ways you can intersect the different genres and tropes to create new hybrids. Balloon Ride Fantasy does just this with a heavy synth focus that pushes towards a chiptune sound at times – but arranged in a stadium rock/dancefloor way. It’s wonderfully refreshing and very fun.
“Welcoming Party” is all about the huge chorus. All the synths smash together to create thick power chords of keyboards that the huge drums smash through. The vocals are vocoded and amplified so they sound almost like a male Vocaloid in some phrases, but its overproduction is exactly what we loved of the 80’s new romantic era – but placed into today’s synthpop world. “Arcadia” is all about the bass line which instantly makes me feel a hint of Peter Gabriel but if he was jamming out in a cyberpunk boyband. It’s this retro-future fusion coupled with catchy riffs and vocal calls that make the song, and indeed the band, a success. “Human Bird” ups the tempo and beat and reminds me of Fenech-Soler in that dance-music-as-a-rock-band sound. Its clever use of rolling chords and arpeggios makes the track my favourite of the EP and something you could happily have on repeat – with a really clever breakdown in the middle that pushes in vocal chants and rallies to a rousing climax. “Gods Beyond the Moon” takes nods from darker electronica and Europop with a harsh powdery bass synth pushing the beat along. It’s a tech-noir feel that is hinted at throughout the EP but here it’s allowed to breathe and enjoy its melodic darkness. “Robots In Lust (Night Song)” is the most straightforward piece of synthpop and has some great lyrics of robo-love included before a Cure-esque “Heartbreakers” closes out the EP in a kooky indie pop fashion with a fantastic track.
Balloon Ride Fantasy’s sound is full of so much production that it takes a few listens to discover all the sounds but what the band understand and exploit is that the power of instruments turned up to full power on the drama scale makes for effective dancefloor anthems. BRF is crammed full of them, each one with a dark tinge but not afraid to party either and that’s the perfect kind of music I like to dance to.
Recommended track: Human Bird
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