Sound — 6
Jaunty, effervescent and ebullient, the approach undertaken by Ballyhoo! encompasses elements of a variety of musical genres. Ranging from the hip hop rock of The Fool, to the more upbeat, rock riffs of Freestyle, Ballyhoo!'s debut album breathes likeability and all-important variety-a necessity for an album spanning 18 songs-that endears the band to the partying teens of the summer (and other seasons no doubt). The solitary guitarist, Howi, brings a depth to the mix, his apt for melody apparent as he delves into the foray of melodic radio pop rock that is altogether, dancing and swerving through what, in Cheers, is a satisfactorily complete album. It would be doing great discredit to the band to 'genrelise' the music constituting Cheers! into the generic pop rock/punk played incessantly by inexorable radio stations. Guitar solos bring the songs to welcome pinnacles, and although Ballyhoo! shall not satisfy shredders or metallers, there is something stirring about songs as accomplished as Fear of Rejection, or the hard edged, DJ scratched, Pathetic. Of course, there is evidence of more to come from these guys; the youthful exuberance of Mista J's bass, accompanied by Blaze on keyboards, Big D (drummer), and of course, Howi, does not carry the band through the album. There are some tracks that are not as accomplished as others, but this is to be expected from a band whose career is still in early days. Rating a band under such circumstances can be difficult, but considering that there is a lot of room for development, the figure below is conservative not because this is a poor album, but because future releases must be reviewed in relation to this album, and in the name of objectivity.
Lyrics — 6
These songs cover teenage issue, from relationships to drug usage, and to be perfectly candid, some songs lack a certain subtlety that could improve Cheers beyond measure. Songs such as Phantoms provide a great dilemma to any reviewer in that the Howi's vocal delivery soars, as he excels in his emotion; these songs are indisputably pertaining to the band, yet somehow lack that little bit extra-weaponry that can only be attained through life's experience-that could be referred to as articulation. Again, this is not a criticism, but an observation, common to many bands in their early days. As previously touched upon, the delivery more than compensates for the element of lyrical naivety, particularly on tracks such as Phantoms and Somewhere Tropical. However, what can be attributed as a weakness can also be perceived to be largely positive, in that this is not meant to be sophisticated, but reflective, and, with just two weeks of schooling left in my life, this album really got me in a nostalgic state of mind, perhaps not regretting or missing the past, but remembering it: this is the ambrosia of Ballyhoo!
Overall Impression — 7
After writing last month's Unsigned Artists Of The Month article, Howi was one of the first artists to contact me, addressing the fact that his band had just put out a record, and would I review it. Replying in the positive, I waited just a week or so to receive my own copy of Cheers, sent to me personally by the Howi himself, I presume. With influences ranging from 311 to Reel Big Fish, and an extensive tour of the USA in process, Ballyhoo! is one of the most serious, yet tangibly grafting bands about today: give the album a listen, and buy it if you can (not that the members condemn illegal downloading, as they take care to mention on the album's leaflet).