We did not know what to make of Berlin-based three piece Ballet School last January at Eurosonic. The band’s hyperactive singer Rosie Blair scared us with her undirected joy. Guitarist Michel Collet seemed a goth guitarist who had accidentally stepped onto the wrong stage. Drummer Louis McGuire tried to keep things in sync, but there was little unity in the band and Collet even stopped playing before the overly loud performance was over. Despite all this confusion I picked up two or three tunes that kept ringing in my mind and had me look up the band on Spotify. Since then melancholic disco gems like Heartbeat Overdrive and All Thing Return At Night have me looking forward to the band’s full length debut with great anticipation. It will be released tomorrow and is more excentric than I had hoped for, as well as more coherent. I you have ever wondered what the Cocteau Twins would have sounded like if produced by Giorgio Moroder, then The Dew Lasts An Hour provides you with a possible answer. Even if you’ve had better things to wonder about should give it a go.
Half of the 12 songs on The Dew Lasts An Hour have been circulating on the net for some time. Most of these have been remixed for the album, with more emphasize put on electronics and less on Collet’s appealing shoegazey guitar. It helps the older songs fit in with the lounge club-friendly new material, even though individual they’ve become less powerful. (The album version of Heartbeat Overdrive I consider to be nothing short of a mistake and it will immediately be replaced by the single version in my playlist of the album.) Advanced single Lux, released last month, was the first forebode that the album might be more ethereal than preceding singles suggested. To file The Dew Lasts An Hour under dreampop, however, would not do justice to the vigor and variance of the band’s sound and Blair’s singing in particular. Regardless of the amount of unnecessary spherical aesthetics they might be wrapped in, there’s a striking severity in almost every song on the album. One of the exceptions is the instrumental opener Slow Dream, which made me decide to do a piece on instrumental openers. They bug the hell out of me.
Ballet School’s appeal is a persistent undertone of camp, allowing them to play everything from girl band-ish indie pop like Pale Saint, with Blair doing a pretty good Tegan and Sarah impression, to sultry 90s dance pop ballads like Gray and Crush , without running the risk of ever sounding mainstream. Blair has the same quirky attraction that rocketed slightly odd underground divas like Róisín Murphy and Gwen Stefani and into stardom. Chances of this happening to Ballet School are smaller than the band being picked up by people, who just like me, hearing some wistful echoes of the indie disco, in which we used to dance to The Sundays, 10.000 Maniacs and the bloody Smiths again. I’m not sure whether The Dew Lasts An Hour is a compromise or a symbiosis between these two traditions. Without being a disappointment in any way, Ballet School’s debut shows that they still can do a lot better.