The second album by Belgian rock/pop band, Balthazar continue in full force, writing songs with commanding charisma and somewhat, some swagger. The relatively unknown band, Balthazar utilises different styles in their music, having elements of Pop, Rock and others. Balthazar have always been an interesting band, featuring young musicians who just write their own music to the best degree they can. It is fortunate that Balthazar, though it could be described that their music has somewhat of a dirty sound to it, have still always written to such a high quality. It is a shame that the band isn’t as well known in England or America, as they are in their homeland, as although their music is unconventional at times, and not what the mainstream sounds like, it is great music, full of charisma that effortlessly and easily commands the listener into listening to each song.
On ‘Rats’, Balthazar continue much in the same style that was ‘Applause’, featuring music that still contains charisma, yet it is a lot more downplayed on this album. The slightly broken English by the lead singer still remains on this new album, which oddly enough is one of the distinguishing styles of the band. It is not as broken as it was on the first album, and thus we can see the band is progressing and developing more musically and talent-wise as they progress further and further. It seems at times that there’s less instruments and layers in the songs on this album, but despite that, all the sounds feel much more clearer and more well formed on this album. It is as though they’ve only filled up necessary layers, not letting the songs be ruined by too many unnecessary layers of instrumentals. It is much more stripped down, and it gives each instrument, when it has a chance to play, a position in the foreground of the song, giving the songs a movement and flow.
The album seems to be a much more darker album than their first. The first had a few tracks that were raucous at times, featuring more speed-up instrumentals and vocals that were all over the place, and at times backed up by choral singing. On this album, whilst these ideas are still used by the band in some songs, it is nowhere as frequent and as abundant. However, this is one of the album’s strengths, as it means they’re not repeating their strengths from the first album exactly, but instead using their talents to develop the kind of music they produce in a different way. This more downplayed style is much more suiting for a follow-up album, and it is very well executed. There is a lot to be enjoyed from this album, despite being a much more low-fi perhaps. There are a number of good songs on this album, which are all well written, constructed and performed.
Overall, this second album is very impressive. Though at times it isn’t as dense as their first album, but with that this album is more much constructed. As an album it has a much better flow than their previous album, with each song running into the next much more easily and effortlessly than the songs on their first album. The quality of the songs seem to be much better also, with there being less of the kind of dirty sound often associated with newer and upcoming bands. The charisma that comes out of the lead singer has a commanding quality, and when combined with the instrumentals that make up their music, it becomes somehow even more commanding. This is a very impressive second album, and considering how good their first one was as well, it makes me greatly anticipate what they will do next.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
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