The Ballet hail from New York. Matchy Matchy is their fourth album following a pair of self-released recordings and I Blame Society which was released on Fortuna Pop! Musically, they take their cues from pop and indie music from ‘60s to the ‘90s. Lyrically they explore same sex relationships and experiences. On Fika.
Vinyl LP £14.49 FIKA072LP
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Well, who wouldn’t want to immediately tuck into an album called ‘Matchy Matchy’ by a band called The Ballet, whose cover features two figures wearing vaguely phallic flamingo masks that are juuuust about touching? Now, although to the untutored this LP might come off as overly poppy, plastic, even a little trite, but I would encourage you to look beneath the surface towards a melancholy that reveals itself and starts to interact with tensions between self and sexuality.
The Ballet both identify as queer (mentioned almost immediately in the liner notes), and some of the song titles refer to this such as ‘But I’m A Top’ or ‘First Time In A Gay Bar’. Now, these kind of song titles may conjure stereotypical images and a type of music that accompanies it, but The Ballet have subverted this in a way that’s funny, gentle, and knowing. Maybe I’m just over-analysing ‘Matchy Matchy’ but the subversion seems to be everywhere. Opener ‘Looking’ has the lyric ‘‘Do you wanna call me son or daddy’ which I found affecting in a funny sort of way. Why is that? I suppose there’s tension between language and sexuality, as well as sexuality and self-determination.
This album has a way of playing with certain accepted knowledge, either in language or in purely sonic terms, in order to confuse you. Of course, the album is very poppy with its major, chord sequences and bubbly, bright instrumentation but you also have that melancholy I’ve mentioned. There’s the Stephin Merritt-esque delivery of lyrics such as ‘Why doesn’t anybody believe me / when I say I’m a top’. There’s nothing macho there in of itself, but then it encourages you to think about how much masculinity is self-defined, and you realise that, rather that being a question, it is more of a self-affirmation.
‘Matchy Matchy’ is a beguiling album, one that plays with conceptions of not only sexuality but society as a whole. It’s an album for 2019.
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