What do you do when you haven’t yet raised $700,000 for a music festival on a blimp over Lake Ontario? You take another crack at the old music machine, of course. Toronto’s best blimp-related band, Blimp Rock, is back with the misleadingly titled Sophomore Slump.
Because of course the album’s 10 songs are far from a letdown—just like with their self-titled debut, they’re full of charm, humour and sometimes uncomfortably painful truths.
Those who have been following the band since its inception will see some nice little callbacks to the previous album. Though situated lower down in the track listing this time around, “Blimp Rock Live 2” is a sequel of sorts to “Blimp Rock Live.” Their goal already established, this sequel wonders how to make their dreams come true. “Do you get a Master in Dreams?” Peter Demakos asks, and it’s something to wonder about.
And then there’s opener “Will It Ever,” the beautiful instrumental opener filled with lush strings as Demakos sings about firsts—crushes, kisses, concerts, records—before dropping in a reference to “Late-night lifeguard parties. The song adds a bit of guitar towards the end, flowing seamlessly into the title track as Demakos specifies these firsts—a wet and strange first kiss, a first record being Saturday People by Prozzäk and so much more.
There’s plenty of playfulness to come. “Let’s All Stay In Tonight” could have in another life been written by B.A. Johnston for speaking so deeply to what people—especially people who go to a lot of shows—feel like. There’s something just so comfortable about “There’s no waiting in line and the cover is a blanket.” The keys in the background of the song even bring to mind the sounds you might hear in a Johnston opus.
“Conflict Resolution” is also a lot of fun as Claire Whitehead negotiates a fight involving stolen pizza slices and tall cans, and the Ramones-esque instrumental backing makes it all the more of a flurry. And it makes it even more surprising when the song abruptly stops with a few dozen seconds of a rather unique “field recording.”
Let’s also not forget “Vampires,” easily the catchiest song on the album. It’s half about mythical creatures camped out in closets or under beds but also about blaming thoughts on the internet and diets. “My Mind is a Shark” is another fast-paced number
On the other side of things, “Sensitive Boys” is another beautiful song (so of course there are strings here), an ode to the boys who hate sports and naively wander into uncomfortable situations. And closer “In the Doghouse” is like a warm embrace thanks to the great backing vocals.
Finally, the aforementioned uncomfortable truths come in ‘Music Industry Blues,” a song infinitely relatable to both small bands and the people who write about them. “Someday we might break even” is a wistfully sung refrain, and a section that starts with “Dear music writer…” will hit home for music bloggers.
This is all a long-winded way of saying Blimp Rock are still as sharp as ever—if they don’t eventually get their blimp festival going, then we have failed as a society.
Sophomore Slump is out tomorrow, April 7.
Top Tracks: “Vampires”; “Let’s All Stay In Tonight”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*