Dark Drives, Life Signs
The first full-length album from Vancouver group, The Ballantynes resembles a mixed media art piece. Dark Drives, Life Signs makes you want to dance around your house. There is a lot going on, but it’s not overwhelming. Rather, it’s elaborate and fresh. They took things that have been done before and created something smart, sexy and fun. The first song, “PMA” demonstrates their ability to layer different genres, and create a slightly grungy blend of gospel, soul, and indie. The third song, “My Place Your Town” takes its roots from somewhere far away but still hits close to home. There is variation not only between songs but also within them. Due to the diversity of harmonies and instruments, you may recognize traces of The Supremes, The Black Keys, John Mayer, Chicago, Supertramp, and even Led Zeppelin (from the Robert Plantism of the vocals in the song “Ghost”). The album closes with a very Kink-like air on “Us,” making the first and last songs the strongest overall. If you think that music these days is lacking soul, this album is sure to change your mind.
– Bella Lindsey