01. She Wants To Destroy Me
02. Battle Cry
03. Take It Easy
04. No Good
06. Things We Don’t Mean
08. Beautiful Day
09. When They Told Me
10. Lost At Sea
11. Outta My Mind
12. A Lesson In Gravity
13. Wasting Away
14. Morning Sunlight Never ones to shy away from lengthy albums, Baltimore’s Ballyhoo! are back with a brand new album, Pineapple Grenade, that comes in at a staggering 14 tracks—just one track shy of 2011’s Daydreams. When I spoke to lead vocalist Howi Spangler last summer, to my astonishment he’d told me they’d finished Daydreams in three weeks. So knowing that it had piqued my curiosity to learn that Pineapple Grenade was a six month long process. The band had created such a tight album in just three weeks that I was concerned with so much time spent on their latest effort, it simply wouldn’t hold up to its predecessor.
Frankly, I’ve never been more happy to be wrong because I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened through this album since it premiered on ARTISTdirect days ago. Pineapple Dreams finds Ballyhoo! continuing to shine with their unique brand of reggae inspired alternative rock music combined with introspective lyricism that still manages to have a widespread appeal with its relatability.
“I’ve been saying this for a long time, don’t let life pass you by
Maybe I should take my own advice and not get left behind.”
However I say relatability with a grain of salt. The lyrics are at times very dark even when juxtaposed with the rather chipper melodies Ballyhoo! are so keen to put together. Pineapple Grenade find the band tackling subject matters like depression and being diagnosed in a hospital and the emotional trauma that follows that. Yet Ballyhoo! take these very personal matters and display them in a way that allows fans and listeners to still be able to connect with the band on another level. This record takes a very personal turn in terms of lyricism highlighting those above subject matters and even detailed relationship woes yet turns these bouts of inspiration into hard hitting rock songs.
“No one’s gonna save me. No one’s gonna overtake me.” The album opens vividly with “She Wants To Destroy Me” that simply paints a scenes fitting of a rom-com. “I wish I could understand you girl, you and your wicked ways, just when I think we have something going on, you’re freaking out on me” sings Spangler on top of a breezy, surf and turf melody that blasts into an exploding chorus that I promise you will be singing along to in no time.
Ballyhoo! effortlessly blend reggae and rock and they really show it on “Battle Cry”. Always aiming to create songs with a message, this song is one to truly speak to the underdogs and worthy of one of those waving-lighters-in-the-air scenes. High energy and fast paced, its spooky beat and soaring chorus rile you up for the rest of the album. “Take It Easy” interestingly finds Spangler rapidly singing a repeated refrain of “You’re moving too fast, slow down” while languidly taking his time as he sings “Take it easy” with enough emotional vigor to even make listeners take it to heart and slow down themselves.
Produced by Rome Ramirez —whom I believe is an outside producer— “No Good” takes on another side of Ballyhoo! with a very bass and synth heavy sound that makes it strangely very radio friendly. But in a totally great way! An album highlight despite the noticeable sonic difference, it continues in the band’s repertoire of memorable choruses and crushing guitars. Expanding on a more synthetic sound while still sounding like Ballyhoo!, “No Good” is a shining example of the band’s musical progression towards a bigger sound.
To truly embody summer, “Beautiful Day” is as sunny as its title suggests. With smooth “ahhs” in the background, Howi Spangler’s even smoother vocals and lovable lyrics build up to some fancy guitar work to create a really great song perfect for those summer playlists. As bright and sunny as “Beautiful Day” was, “When They Told Me” takes on a darker side despite its positive demeanor. “I was standing on a rooftop of a hospital in Baltimore, losing my religion and my youth” plays against sparkling guitars that really demonstrates the musicianship of this band.
“I am such a fool thinking I am worthy of you, I will always be your wallflower.” It was only fitting that such a long album had an equally long album review but it’s only natural when Ballyhoo! create such tight albums. They haven’t disappointed me yet and I don’t see them doing so anytime in the near future. Pineapple Grenade is a prime example of how great this band is at sculpting amazing songs and they’ve mastered their sound into something that’s really progressed since 2011’s Daydreams. Ending on “Lost at Sea” and “A Lesson In Gravity”, these two personal album favorites epitomize what Pineapple Grenade as an entire album is: Ballyhoo!’s gift for creating cathartic songs that listeners can instantly connect to. In what was eight times as long a process as it took to create Daydreams, Ballyhoo! have created an album to truly be proud of. We’re certainly glad they spent that long on the album and fans of Ballyhoo! will be glad they did too.
Check out Pineapple Grenade which is streaming on ARTISTdirect. It releases on June 25 via Right Coast Records.
Ballyhoo! is Howi Spangler, Donald Spangler, Scott Vandrey, JR Gregory.