Ballet School

The Dew Lasts an Hour

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Ballet School are a trio of expats based in Berlin whose glimmering dream pop owes a great deal to late-'80s forebears like Cocteau Twins and Disintegration-era Cure. Formed in 2012 by Irish singer Rosie Blair and Brazilian guitarist Michel Collet, Ballet School added British drummer Louis McGuire to complete their lineup shortly before recording their first EP, 2013's Boys Again. Now signed to Bella Union (a label run by Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde), they've delivered The Dew Lasts an Hour, a veritable pop cloud of heavily chorused guitars, misty '80s synths, and Blair's wide-ranging vocal stylings, which bounce wildly between dulcet trills and audacious Cyndi Lauper-like affectations. Throw in a bit of '90s R&B and lite alt-rock and you get an idea of Ballet School's chosen hybrid. Overtly nostalgic in their design, the bandmembers paint a worthy tribute to their heroes, gently updating the type of music that is so obviously their passion. Songs like "Pale Saint" and "Cherish" are undeniably catchy and full of warmth and melody. But like so many bands that revel in a prior decade's unique style, be it '60s garage, '70s soft rock, or '80s dream pop, Ballet School work a little too hard to re-create their heroes' sonic imprint, hunting down specific pieces of vintage gear and imitating outmoded production techniques while missing out on the chance to make their own distinct impression. As with any great music, having well-crafted songs still matters more than anything. Ballet School certainly have some quality material, but by saddling it with such a specific sonic identifier, it will be hard for listeners to avoid the immediate first impression of them being another '80s throwback in a year that has already seen so many acts treading similar ground. Coming from the creative hotbed of modern-day Berlin, it seems like they could have pushed the envelope a bit more.

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