Ballboy: I Hate Scotland
The first time I heard Ballboy was on a mixtape a couple of months ago. The song was called "Donald In The Bushes With A Bag Of Glue", and one of the reasons I liked it was because of the handclaps. You see, I like handclaps. In fact, I think that the hands are one of the most underrated instruments there is. Handclaps make you happy, and I like music that makes me happy.
Anyway, the song I heard was taken from Ballboy's first release, the five track-EP "Silver Suits For Astronauts" that was issued in November last year. Of course, I had to buy this EP and see what the fuss was about. And I wasn't disappointed at all. Although the first track, "Donald…" is the best song on the EP, the other four tracks (one of which is not listed on the sleeve) are good too, and they differ quit a bit from each other. So, when I noticed that they had released a second EP in July, I ordered it right away, and wondered to myself what it would sound like. Now I don't have to think about that anymore. No, because I have it in my CD player and it's rotating over and over again. Yup, you've guessed it: I like it.
The new EP is called "I Hate Scotland", a title that maybe reflects the thoughts of Ballboy's singer and guitarist Gordon McIntyre, as the band is from Edinburgh. The first track we hear on this new record is "Essential Wear For Future Trips To Space", which suggests that Mr McIntyre is quite fascinated by the world above our heads. The song is excellent and it sticks with you right from listening to it for the first time,. just as "Donald…" did. McIntyre's lyrics are nice too, for example. "even polar bears, need warm hearts to make it through the snow", and when sung in Scottish, well, it just melts my heart. In these days, we know many bands from Scotland, but not many of them actually sings in Scottish, unless you count The Proclaimers.
The second song is the title track, and here McIntyre continues where "A Day In Space" left off on their debut effort. In other words, this is basically a song where he speaks about his native country while the band plays a nice little melody to keep him company. Normally, this is the kind of track that would have me reaching for my remote, but being as fond as I am of the Scottish accent, it has been enough to keep me listening to the whole song every time and also to try to understand what he is saying. I think that I got most of it.
Number three is "One Sailor Was Waving", another fine popsong with lyrics that makes it clear why this is one of Belle & Sebastian's favourite bands at the moment. "I'm not the brightest hope, I'm not the shining light of my generation" McIntyre sings, words that just as well could have been written by Stuart Murdoch some fifty miles away in Glasgow. Not convinced? Well, OK. "I'm going to get drunk in the afternoon, take a razor blade across my eyes and see if it makes any difference to me". Enough? I hought so.
Next up is "Olympic Cyclist" which appears as an acoustic version (don't ask me where the original version is found, I don't have a clue…), and here we just hear Gordon McIntyre alone with his guitar (plus bass and keyboards… hmmm, that makes the whole band except for the drummer, sorry…), singing a song about a friend of his that took part of a velodrome cycle race in Athens. That's what I think it's about, anyway. But you can never be too sure. Still, it's a great tune, and once again great lyrics.
And last (but not really, but I'll come to that soon) we get to hear three school kids (or even younger?) singing us their version of "Donald In The Bushes With A Bag Of Glue". OK, it's just the first verse and it's a dodgy recording, probably made with a cassette recorder in a kindergarten or something. But it's cute. By the way, the title for this tune is "Donald Jr". How appropriate.
If you wait for ten minutes or so after 'Donald Jr' song has finished, you get one more hidden song. There was one hidden song on "Silver Suits…" too, but that was short, and with not too much in the way of lyrics, but this one is longer. It is not, however. the best song they have recorded, so I doubt that I will stay tuned to those ten minutes every time. If it wasn't for the fast forward button on my remote, I don't think I would have waited the first time either.
That's it. The second Ballboy EP and it's a great one. Of course, you could do comparisons with Belle & Sebastian, mostly because they seem to like each other, and musically it's doesn't differ that much. But already, I like Ballboy more than I like B&S. I can't wait to hear the album…
Essential Wear For Future Trips To Space
I Hate Scotland
One Sailor Was Waving
Olympic Cyclist (Acoustic Version)