Release Date: Sep 9, 2014
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Since their formation in 2011, Berlin-based trio Ballet School have already seen their big, bold, heavily ’80s-infused pop win them plenty of fans. The acclaim that greeted last year’s EP Boys Again was more than enough to ensure that their first album would be greatly anticipated. The Dew Lasts An Hour is a collection that channels its sound from a range of influences.
As far as modern day musical origin stories go, Ballet Schools’ formation is pretty sweet. Vocalist Rosie Blair heard guitarist Michel Collet busking in Germany’s U-Bahn, and was so enraptured by his playing that she promptly asked him to form a band with her. After bringing in drummer Louis McGuire in 2012, the Berlin-based trio’s lineup was complete.
Vocalist Rosie Blair made a firm statement on her label's homepage: Ballet School is "not a synth band." She clarifies that they're a guitar band interested in pushing their setup and, in turn, producing what amounts to a singular mainstream/indie pop music hybrid. It's easy to hear where a kneejerk oversimplification like "synth band" would come from: on surface level, Ballet School's classical New Wave leanings are immediately prevalent. Pull away these gossamer strands and you'll pick up on influences from a wider scope of intelligent 1980s pop, from Blondie to The Cure to Kate Bush to Cocteau Twins—the latter perhaps most appropriate, as the band is signed to Simon Raymonde's Bella Union label.
Remember the ‘80s? I certainly do. The ‘80s were not a particularly kind decade for me, as you tended to get beat up in school if you didn’t listen to one of the countless hair metal bands of the day. Me? I was into a-ha and Wang Chung. So, enough said. Well, Ballet School, a Berlin-based ….
Call it serendipity or just plain stalking, but it’s fitting that Ballet School should end up signed to Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde’s label. The Berlin-based trio are obviously and explicitly in love with their boss’ band, co-opting their dream-pop fuzziness on the hazy ‘Gray’, while singer Rosie Blair shapes ecstatic swooping melodies just like Elizabeth Fraser. Ballet School really come into their own when they apply their pop smarts: ‘Heartbeat Overdrive’ and ‘Cherish’ are gorgeous should’ve-been-hits.
Every discussion of Ballet School becomes a discussion of “the 1980s” within a few sentences, and this one will be no different. What’s interesting is how everyone involved seems to have a tacit understanding of what “the 1980s” means and how it narrows an entire decade into a few signifiers—this band doesn’t represent the 1980s and its attendant political discord or technological advances, nor does it ever account for the incredible leaps in punk, metal, hip-hop, electronic, you name it. It doesn’t even include Michael Jackson or Prince or Bruce Springsteen.
Ballet School are a trio of expats based in Berlin whose glimmering dream pop owes a great deal to late-'80s forebears like Cocteau Twins and Disintegration-era Cure. Formed in 2012 by Irish singer Rosie Blair and Brazilian guitarist Michel Collet, Ballet School added British drummer Louis McGuire to complete their lineup shortly before recording their first EP, 2013's Boys Again. Now signed to Bella Union (a label run by Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde), they've delivered The Dew Lasts an Hour, a veritable pop cloud of heavily chorused guitars, misty '80s synths, and Blair's wide-ranging vocal stylings, which bounce wildly between dulcet trills and audacious Cyndi Lauper-like affectations.
Next time you’re walking past a musician on the underground, stop. Check. Are they playing a cack-handed version of ‘Wonderwall’ or are they playing “delicate, arcane, beautiful guitar”. If it’s the latter then they may be worth a chat. It worked for Rosie Blair. The story is that ….
Head here to submit your own review of this album. For fans of '80s movies, Ballet School's new album is the music you probably hear in the background of your nostalgic daydreams. Consisting of Rosie Blair, Louis McGuire and Michel Collet, the Berlin based alt-pop trio presents us with their official debut, The Dew Lasts An Hour. In a previous interview with Clash magazine, the band stated that the title comes from the "fragility of youth".