After writing a few pieces and interviewing Texan musician Danny Malone, I could almost predict that his second and most recent full-length album would be a unique listen. This album is as indie and “future-folk” as it gets. It had a unique recording process, after all - Balloons was recorded in ten days at a haunted castle in Denmark. All instruments on the album were played by Malone himself. The lyrics appear to be rants with meanings that are seemingly unclear at first listen. Either way, the songs have a strangely catchy beat that makes you want to keep on listening.
Starting off the album is “Hush.” I wouldn’t really consider this a track, seeing its short duration. “Hush” is really thirty-eight seconds of whispers and indistinguishable noises. In the short amount of time, the track sets the haunting, droning tone for the upcoming songs.
“Spiderlegs” and “Sugarwater” are the two tracks that carry a slightly different tone than the remaining songs. They’re eerily upbeat. In accompaniment with the music video, “Spiderlegs” appears to be about an addiction. It begins with the line: “The drugs, the drugs, the spider legs like lashes on my eyes. I thought the drugs would kill, the bugs keep coming back to life.” “Sugarwater” had me tapping my foot along to the “shoo bop, shoo bops” heard towards the end of the song.
A few songs later is the track titled “San Diego,” which seems to be a self-evaluation… or self-criticism. The chorus begins “What’s happening to me? I’m sick of myself. Ain’t one thing, cause it’s probably something else happening to me, when really I’m numb…” The song brings attention to the narrative quality of Malone’s songwriting. He seems to be relaying a story throughout the length of the song.
What song wouldn’t get your attention with opening lyrics like “Who knows why he was born with octopus arms? Marshmallow collar bones and a mouth full of mud”? “Middle Names” is an interesting title for a song that doesn’t really seem to be about names at all. This track definitely had me scratching my head in curiosity and wonder.
Following the soft, slow track “Fall Back Plan” is “Wait on Me.” The song begins with a soft, muffled sound, followed by the gentle strumming of a guitar. “Wait on Me” seems to address people who come and go, in and out of your life. The song ends on a sad, lonely note, closing with the lines: “And I know the only way to find yourself is by yourself, by yourself. What if you’re someone you don’t really wanna know?”
Balloons ends with the acoustic ballad “Therese.” Malone’s voice is almost a whisper as he sings of a lady friend who left an imprint on his life. The song concludes with the verse “I can’t erase you. I can’t erase you. I can’t erase you… Therese.” Indeed, the heartbreak and sadness in Malone’s voice as he repeats that statement is hard to erase out of memory.
Though the lyrics take a bit of thinking to understand, let alone interpret, it was the instrumental background and just Malone’s folksy voice that kept my attention. I just couldn’t stop listening to Balloons. It had this strange, yet soothing vibe to it that was really relaxing for some reason. Whether it was the ghostly vibes from the castle, Malone’s creative genius or a combination of both, Balloons is an interesting album. Though most of the eleven tracks relatively sound the same, each still manage to captivate listeners.