Red Balloon

Tank and the Bangas

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Red Balloon Review

by Andy Kellman

Tank and the Bangas waste no time speaking to the times on Red Balloon, the New Orleanians' opalescent second album for Verve Forecast. The band skips and bops along on the opening "Mr. Bluebell" as Tarriona "Tank" Ball, lyrically clever and vocally nimble as ever, checks off the U.S. Capitol attack, prescription drug dependency, social media, and smartphones, among other ills and issues, ending with a sweet-sarcastic "Desensitized is the new wave," repeated several times for effect. Wayne Brady, in the role of paranoiac radio DJ -- the first of the album's several jocks -- heightens the tension by helping the band segue into the agitated electro-trap of "Anxiety," a stream-of-consciousness dispatch from a padded cell. "Communion in My Cup" later contains some of Ball's finest blithe boasts ("Man, I'm Michael in a skirt/Bitch, I'm Prince in a blouse") but later sniffs, "Look at your president, look at your government -- you feeling powerless." There's a good amount of say-what-now rambunctiousness with "Who's in Charge," where Ball handles the sighing intro, the fully amped call-and-response, and cartoonish interjections, and throughout "Big," a swinging and bounding collaboration with an operatic Big Freedia. Listeners with an aversion to the zeitgeist razzle-dazzle and rambunctious frivolity are very well served. "Why Try" and "No ID," located in the middle, are supple disco-funk throwbacks; the latter is as bubbly-tough as anything off Evelyn "Champagne" King's first album (if with 2022 attitude). They lead to a second half where the madness is mostly mellow. There's the Earth, Wind & Fire-meets-Mtume (in the French Quarter) romantic sway of "Cafe du Monde," featuring Jamison Ross and Trombone Shorty. "Jellyfish" is old-school romantic escape, while "Heavy" is the most seductive song they've recorded yet. Moreover, good luck to any band that strives to create songs of irrepressible spirit that are as beautiful and soul nourishing as "Stolen Fruit" or the Lalah Hathaway collaboration "Where Do We All Go." It's no coincidence that the first of the two mentions Stevie Wonder by name and that the finale recalls that artist's peerless 1972-1976 period.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Tank and the Bangas 00:45 Amazon
2 Tank and the Bangas 02:32 Amazon
3 Tank and the Bangas 02:28 Amazon
4 Tank and the Bangas 03:07 Amazon
5 Tank and the Bangas 03:30 Amazon
6 Tank and the Bangas 03:31 Amazon
7 Tank and the Bangas 03:36 Amazon
8 Tank and the Bangas 03:11 Amazon
9 Tank and the Bangas 03:59 Amazon
10 Tank and the Bangas 01:37 Amazon
11 Tank and the Bangas 03:37 Amazon
Tank and the Bangas 01:41 Amazon
13 Tank and the Bangas 02:41 Amazon
14 Tank and the Bangas 03:27 Amazon
15 Tank and the Bangas 03:55 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick