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EP Review: “Dark Stars & Velvet Skies” Burn the Ballroom

With a gently rollicking beat and guitars that flank the lead vocal leaving only the most melodic points of interest in the song at the forefront of the master mix, it would be accurate to say that the new single and music video “Still” by Burn the Ballroom has pop appeal. There’s something removed from the corruption of most contemporary rock output in this piece, and it’s not directly tethered to any of the cosmetics that the band is using to convey the emotional side of the music here. It’s as though they’re operating under the most efficient production style possible to sound more heartfelt, rather than more conservative in general.

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The bassline isn’t expected to take the show over the vocals, guitar, or even the main beat in a song like “The Long Way Down” or “Fall With Me,” but it does just the same here. All of the songs comprising the six-part tracklist of Dark Stars & Velvet Skies, the new EP from Burn the Ballroom, flesh out foundational detail almost exclusively for the sake of getting us entranced by the tonal and textural charismas the instrumentation has to offer right from the start.

As you could guess in an effort from a group as experienced and adjusted to the pressures that come with a rock n’ roll lifestyle as this band is, complexities are everywhere, assumingly because the majority of listeners picking up this EP are probably longtime fans, but it’s obvious “A Ship That Shared Your Name” and “Calm Down” weren’t designed solely for the band’s disciples. There’s an adventurousness to these two performances that feels like it could win over a lot of new fans if given the right kind of exposure via Dark Stars & Velvet Skies this summer, and I think you’ll understand what I mean when you heart it on your own.

The music video for “Still” might not have the elegance of the harmony in “10 to 1,” it highlights a more casual approach to the harmony than I had known Burn the Ballroom to be comfortable utilizing before now. They’re so much more relaxed in their execution here than I would have guessed just from listening to some of their early-2010s work, and while a lot of this is because of the mileage on their professional odometer, it’s also because of a natural creative evolution they were bound to experience sooner than later.

Rock n’ roll with defined character isn’t very easy to find anymore – not that it was ever particularly plentiful to begin – but this is something you can count on discovering when listening to the new EP Dark Stars & Velvet Skies by Burn the Ballroom this summer. As opposed to trying to fit inside a box that someone drew up for some other band in another decade unrelated to what the present state and time in pop is all about, Burn the Ballroom are sticking with what they know to work, and adding a fresh panache that does a lot to make their sound even sexier.

Chadwick Easton

About Michael Stover

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