Club Anthems – Ballboy

2001 – SL Records

Alternative/ Folk/ Rock

Before I begin I have to say that Club Anthems really isn’t an album, but is rather a compilation of the tracks from the Scottish group’s previous three EPs Silver Suits For Astronauts (1999), I Hate Scotland (2000), and Girls Are Better Than Boys (2001), but when I picked it up and gave it my first listen I liked it so much that I though it deserved a review in itself. So, here goes!

club anthems

The opening track I Hate Scotland is brilliant with its softly spoken explanation of singer Gordon McIntyre’s social lament and its droning indie noise. There is just something wonderfully beautiful in its simplicity and texture and the unashamed Scottish accent weighing heavily on the vocals. The follow up track Essential Wear For Future Trips To Space follows in a similar vein of wafting, dreamlike music, but this time there is something much more uplifting and heart-warming in the lyrics and vocals which is really something quite special. This, as the second track, is also particularly nice as it lets the listener know that they won’t be in for a gruelling melange of irritatingly depressing songs.

Really, the first track, while it sets up the band’s sound, is slightly misleading as it implies the kind of melancholy of bands like Radiohead or Massive Attack, but in truth Ballboy actually seem to have a great sense of humour that weaves its way through the cold grey veneer of their music.

The group, despite their droning indie leanings, have a great sensibility when it comes to folk music and sixties pop melodies. Tracks like Donald In The Bushes With A Bag Of Glue and Swim For Health really show of the group’s talent when it comes to song writing, and also their taste for more traditional forms of music.

I would say, however, that the real charm of this record lies in its immaculately crafted lyrics and their deadpan delivery. There is just something so bittersweet in McIntyre’s voice and something so earthy and comforting in the lyrical content that overrides the fact that, as the record progresses, the music itself has a tendency to become slightly boring and repetitive. I mean, the music is very good, but about halfway through the track-list one does begin to feel as if they’ve heard it all before. I guess there’s only so much that you can do with low-fi indie pop folk music.

In summary I would say that Club Anthems is a very good record. It’s not the be all and end all of indie music, but it does have incredible charm and character, and I believe it is definitely a record that I would listen to again. It’s not really a record for any season, but when the right moment comes along to put it on it’s really just the perfect music.

RATING: ****/5

One of the many great tracks from Ballboy’s 2001 release ‘Club Anthems’


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