Balthazar
Applause


4.0
excellent

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
March 27th, 2010 | 16 replies | 13,166 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: That's your cue.

They refer to themselves as an alternative pop band, but that’s a little too vague for anyone to correctly categorize, or at least imagine, what Balthazar might sound like apart from listening to this album. Forming in the latter part of 2004, this Belgian quintet have made a little career of releasing small bits of their musical product, garnering small-town nominations for their excellence, and putting emphasis on their touring lives rather than a proper first full-length. Balthazar's relatively small number of fans seems tense and anxious for a little more to grasp their minds around and associate the band with. Well, here you are, guys: Applause ensues and that small number of followers is about to get bigger.

Applause hits me as a personal album, being reasonably accessible, touching on, well, pop subjects, but voicing them in a unique way that’s easy to identify with; it’s like these guys are singing to me, man, in a way Top 40 radio has never been able to. To start, bassist Simon Casier controls the direction of the band’s songs, while guitarist Jinte Deprez uniquely plays the second, sometimes inaudible fiddle. The bass lines keep it slow but steady throughout the album's playing time, and as such the band never quite surpass any mid-tempo speeds. This really works for Balthazar, though, as their strengths, most notably their flair for rhythmic beat, are fully exemplified on Applause with its speed and grooving feel. A comparison to the Arctic Monkeys wouldn’t be too far off, actually, although fairly slower, combining touches of The Streets, and maybe even the Gorillaz to keep things relatively odd, but fresh.

Abstract sounds can often enter in at any given moment in Baltahazar’s mix of bass grooves and 4-count drums – digital machine processing via “The Boatman” - which actually results in the band’s release of Belgian Pop feel strangely smart and sophisticated - not so far off from what's felt when listening to critically acclaimed indie rock, if that makes sense. Balthazar makes use of violinist Patricia Vaneste on a few tracks – hit up “More Ways”, please - however, to say they are minimal in her inclusion would sadly be true, though perhaps the better for Applause’s overall sound and goals as an album. The album’s tracks are primarily led by their groove first and foremost; any secondary nuances are, actually, secondary in nature. The interplay between lead vocalist Martin Devoldere and background accenting vocals is really key here, too. “I’ll Stay Here” fronts itself as a resilient, intelligent, and being full of vengeance; Martin declares nonchalantly yet mournfully profound, ‘I can walk up the walls, but can’t make water out of wine,’ while a combination of the band and singer repeat the sentiments for powerful vocal interplay.

The “pop” label is, admittedly, a fair fit in a few ways – hooks hit on each track, often varying in intensity – but don’t expect this to hit it big with any labels anytime soon. Much of Applause is understated and underflowing, requiring attention to grasp, though not so much as the other, more abstract forms of indie rock. And in relation, this does prescribe to an indie rock-like blueprint, as opposed to the band-donned alternative pop, both in feel and direction. The band’s work here sounds experienced, full of potential, and ready to make some Belgian hipsters squeal with glee: Applause for Balthazar is well earned, gentlemen. Nice work.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
March 27th 2010



5784 Comments


Released this week if anyone's interested in stream:

http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/luisterpaal/43226237#luisterpaal.43226237

Band seems to have little coverage in US or UK. I'm hoping its not completely passed over.

Foxhound
March 27th 2010



4570 Comments


Great review. I'll check out the stream.

AggravatedYeti
March 27th 2010



7684 Comments


mmmm Jared review

also the first track off this is awesome. yay pop!

AggravatedYeti
March 27th 2010



7684 Comments


dude sounds so much like Ray Davies.

annnddd this album pretty much kicks ass.

Wizard
March 27th 2010



19215 Comments


Review rules as per usual, don't think I need to tell you that.

Digging: Monarch - Sabbracadaver

Ponton
Emeritus
March 27th 2010



5784 Comments


Thanks, guys.

Glad you like it Yeti

MassiveAttack
March 27th 2010



2688 Comments


hot diggity dog.

iKnowMyOwnWorth
May 11th 2010



1 Comments


This album is brilliant! Shaping up to be my fave of 2010. :D

thimm
May 18th 2010



1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review!
But you should revise the vocalists stuff, 'cause there are two singers (you can check out a small concert of theirs on 3voor12 site): Martin as well as Jinte (the guitar dude) share the lead vocals. On "I'll stay here", I believe Jinte is the lead vocalist...

well, whatever :-)

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
May 14th 2011



6361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad to see some Balthazar love!

The album is magnificent, and they deserve more audience attention. Absolutely beautiful as a live act.

Digging: Shackleton - Deliverance Series No. 1

scissorlocked
September 14th 2011



3508 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album is fun

Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



6361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One way or the other, she will drink my blood like wine.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 6th 2012



6361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

New album in October, going to rule so hard.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 6th 2012



5784 Comments


march 27 2010. lets see, where was i...

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2012



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

will check this out

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Ponton
Emeritus
October 18th 2012



5784 Comments


you better sir



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