New Electric Ride, Balloon Age – Review
If the Mad Hatter had a little gramophone perched on the end of his tea-party table, the sounds emanating from it would have been something like the debut longplayer from Sunderland/London-based quartet New Electric Ride.
The band’s name is like the slogan on an old fairground sign, toting the latest and greatest in sideshow delights – “roll up, roll up!” it cries, shaking silver bells and prancing about in curled-tip slippers. It’s also the title of a song by the legendary Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, whose jilted, slightly bizarre but always wonderful legacy is one of the many torches that set this hot air balloon aflight.
The album teases into itself with “Ode to Bumblebee”, a twenty-three second cranking of the sideshow handle that collapses into disorder – suggesting the slightly ominous image of an open-mouthed sideshow clown trying to tilt from side-to-side, caught in a nightmarish glitch. It’s a delightful prelude to opening track “Here Comes The Bloom”, in which the guitars are dry and slightly raspy, smoothed over with jangly vocals. We’re off to a smooth start, but “Bye Bye (Baton Rouge)” is where the balloon really lifts off, with its tension-building ticking drums that gush into a sky-spanning chorus.
There’s a quirky interlude in the middle there – it’s called “I Feel So Invited”, a looping moment of madness that launches into the John Lennon-esque howl of “In Chains”.
This is a consistent, driven and slightly dizzying record, whose allusions to a whole spectrum of psychedelic heavyweights make it both a clever tribute and an exciting musical adventure in its own right.