By now it feels like hitting repeat, but for the uninitiated, Lost Balloons has to be introduced through the Marked Men timeline. The beloved Texas garage-punk band went on hiatus sometime back, when member Jeff Burke relocated to Japan. He’s since returned to the US and plays sporadically with Marked Men, as well as Radioactivity and other projects. But, while in Japan, he met Yusuke Okada (Suspicious Beasts). The two of them formed Lost Balloons, who just released their second LP Hey Summer.
While most of his other bands follow a garage template, Lost Balloons goes for a softer, ethereal 1960s vibe. It’s no Beach Boys, but harmonies and textures are what build the 12 songs on Hey Summer instead of lightning-fast guitar and infectious earworms. Think of 1960s textures with 1990s downer influence. The harmonies are bright, but in contrast to some seriously pessimistic lyricism.
Every now and then some Marked Men shines through, as in “Losing Time,” but the record is much mellower and methodical. “Numb” features longing pop hooks that continue into the title track with its subdued “woo woo’s.” Similarly, “Nobody” keeps that sunny current going, but with flat line dynamics instead of rising action. No instruments truly stand out on Hey Summer, rather it’s the sum of the whole, steady as she goes.
While the record has a good amount of variation sonically, the vocals are relatively one pitch, to its detriment. There’s some nice emotional flex show at times, as in “Feed the Pain” or “Nobody” but the record’s even keel tone over 37-minutes starts to run together.
Lost Balloons is a fitting band name for this sound, floating in the clouds and offering a distant glimpse of bright colors that are just out of focus. While there are some notable jams on here, it gets a little too lofty at times when a quick burst of energy would pay dividends.
7.0 / 10
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