Published on July 17th, 2015 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson0
Balthazar Announce New Album “Thin Walls” || Out September 25th
Balthazar Announce New Album “Thin Walls”, Out September 25th On Play It Again Sam
Balthazar are pleased to announce details of their new album Thin Walls, out September 25th on Play It Again Sam.
Belgian quintet Balthazar traversed the world touring their 2012 album Rats and clocked up the sort of hard road mileage that can make or break a band but Balthazar’s two songwriters, Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez, emerged emboldened. As Jinte explains, “we know each other’s darkest secrets now. We grew together. You live together as each other’s brother and sister. We discovered we really like each other.” Lives lived in each other’s pockets has left its mark on Thin Walls, the stunning new album from the five-piece who are completed by Patricia Vanneste, Simon Casier and Michiel Balcaen. “Thin Walls is all about touring and never having any privacy,” says Jinte. The songs were written in a hazy hyperactive state between shows. Balthazar’s previous two albums, 2010’s Applause and the calculated, searing alt-rock of 2012’s Rats, were created in a slow, considered manner back home.
The result is the band’s most instinctive and quietly feral record yet. It is, says Jinte, a product of the surroundings in which it was made, “less intimate” and all the better for it. If their first two albums came from the head, this one is straight from the gut. As well as the title being a nod to the prying eyes of the modern age, it’s also a literal description of how many of these songs were born: Jinte and Maarten had rented rooms in an old monastery next door to each other and the thin walls between the rooms meant they could hear every idea the other was working on.
After self-producing Applause and Rats, this time the band traveled to the UK to work with Blur, Depeche Mode and Elbow producer Ben Hillier and Jason Cox (Gorillaz, Massive Attack) at Yellow Fish Studios in Lewes. The resultant record is a career-best: a grizzly indie-rock album full of nocturnal grooves and mesmeric melodies. Jinte and Maarten’s lyrical themes always seem to land on the same page and these are songs of anxiety and hope and love and fear. Usually it’s a girl causing any or all of those emotions. “I’ll always write about girls,” says Maarten. “That’s the thing that gets me writing.” “I like getting older cos it’s getting a bit clearer that nobody knows anything,” says Jinte. The devil is in the detail: it is an album of simple things. “Nobody’s lives are a Greek drama,” says Jinte. “It’s never about the big stuff, it’s always the small stuff.”
The album opens with the filmic glide of ‘Decency’, a track about “being in a band” and one that sets the eerie, captivating tone of the whole record. These are songs that dare you to scratch beneath the surface: ‘Then What’ is a joyously ragged rocker about being so desperately in love that you realize your happiness depends on someone else (“which isn’t a nice feeling,” says Maarten), the fuzzy glam stomp of ‘Nightclub’ explores the poetic, bohemian beauty of being drunk and trying to impress girls and the melancholic croon of ‘Dirty Love’ is about the inevitable doom of falling in love on tour. Themes interlock and weave in and out of each other: the soulful, solemn ‘Bunker’ is about a girl who’s moved away, the woozy ‘Wait Any Longer’ is about moving town yourself. The subjects of doubt and love are returned to in ‘Last Call, I Looked For You’ and ‘So Easy’, whilst the orchestral blast of final song ‘True Love’ is a suitably bittersweet sign-off. “It’s a tribute to the superficiality of lust, i love how it can screw things up” says Maarten. “I guess that’s a running theme.”
Thin Walls is a beguiling snapshot of life in your mid-twenties, an album that puts Balthazar on the cusp of a big breakthrough. There is a slow burning beauty to their songs. These stirring vignettes will take the five-piece to bold new places.