The Balcony evokes a sense of comfort. To put it in linear terms, it’s the moment when you walk in the door from a bad night out; weary, worn out and done, locking the snib with a sigh of relief before your feet reverently take you up the stairs and into your bed. The Llandudno quartet have effortlessly bottled (funny that) the sound of the British teenage dream through riffs, dialectic lyrics (‘your friends can fucking do one’) and a clever overlaying of sounds – and at the same time, commissioned the tearing of the seams of that same dream; the leaving of home, to Leeds, perhaps, as they tell us in Fallout, in the hope of following that effervescent bright young thing, and then the dejected homecoming when it all goes sour, slightly north of the border. No matter. There will be more, they remind us.
The Balcony has split opinions. On one side, there are shouts of defiance and disgust: ‘don’t they know that indie died in 2004?’ and on the other, a celebration of the return of that same spirit (and genre). What is assured, however, is that the boys don’t care. The Balcony is a stubborn act of restlessness and a call of nostalgia for the old sounds of Post AM Arctic Monkeys, The Courteneers, The Kinks, The Kooks… the list is endless. Simultaneously, it is a clever move and a sound piece of musicianship. Differences between the EPs and album of Kathleen, Cocoon, Fallout and Pacifier show the intense pre-release editing and the opener, Homesick, entices us in with echoes of Vampire Weekend in McCann’s vocals and the catchy guitar riffs that are continued throughout.
Never ones to be subtle, the boys let us know what they want and how they want it (and then some) and perhaps that’s where the real charm within the album lies. Beginning with a stripped down, brutal truth: ‘I’m not the type to call you up drunk, but I’ve got some lies to tell’ the lads stick to the same themes throughout; angst, longing, failure, the British attitude of getting on with it…
And we come to its origins. Here is the epitome of what it is to be in a small band from a Welsh town that’s been trying for 10 years to make it; make something. If anything, it’s an album that should be the backing track for the first moons of a new relationship, or one that relies on the simplicity that sex can give: ‘all I want to know / is how far you want to go’. In The Balcony, there remains so much depth left to explore, so many facets that we know they will return to – and herein the greatness of the album lies. We know it will be returned to, we know it will mature; this is only the beginning.