Ballet School at Basement
Ballet School may be a new addition to the alternative pop scene, having formed in late 2011, but already they’ve amassed something of a cult following. The band’s debut album, The Dew Lasts an Hour, released on 8th September, comes hot on the heels of last year’s wildly successful Boys Again EP.
While the three Berlin-based multinationals, who met on the city’s underground DIY scene, may seem instinctively niche, the reality is quite the opposite. Their album launch, located in the basement of the London Edition Marriott hotel, draws a large and impressively varied crowd, from leather-clad teens to investment bankers, who prove that Ballet School have mass appeal.
It’s no surprise why. The band’s unique sound – a blend of upbeat 80s pop and rock, 90s ambient dream-pop and contemporary R&B – is at once refreshingly original and comfortingly familiar. Bucking the trend of reliance on heavy technology, Ballet School have ditched the synths and the laptops for a live set up, allowing Rosie Blair’s versatile vocals, Michel Jun Collet’s soulful guitar and Louis McGuire’s innovative drums to really shine.
Their collective, exuberant energy serves as a through-line, connecting an admirably diverse album. Infectiously high-octane EP favorites Heartbeat Overdrive and Ghost feature effortlessly alongside smooth R&B jam Lux and the ambient sounds of Pale Saint and Heliconia.
In performance, Ballet School are coolly understated – Blair, Collet and McGuire are almost separate entities onstage, engaging in limited interaction with one another. Thankfully, between tracks, Blair’s vulnerable, self-deprecating humor serves to humanise what could otherwise be described as a well-tuned machine. Before launching into a dazzling rendition of Lux, she informs the crowd with some embarrassment: “I just want to let you know, I really like singing this”.
According to label Bella Union, the album title refers to “the transience and fragility of youth”, a sentiment which aptly sums up Ballet’s School’s fresh, complicated and truly joyous approach to pop.
Photos: Rosie Yang
For further information about Ballet School and future events visit here.
The Dew Lasts an Hour is released on 8th September 2014, to pre-order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Heartbeat Overdrive here: