Balthazar - Sand (PIAS, 2021)
With Balthazar’s fifth album, Sand, Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez showcase their infectious songcraft, juxtaposing their voices in eminently enticing ways while perfecting the dance-rock and beat-driven soundscapes deftly explored on previous albums.
Led by Jinte Deprez and Maarten Devoldere who unite both on writing duties and as frontmen, Balthazar continue to satisfy their thirst for the less rigid parameters that resulted whilst working on 2018’s Fever.
Refining their approach to writing, the subsequent recording and following their own solo excursions Jinte, under the nom de plume J.Bernardt with his R&B infused Running Days and Maaarten with the louche, torch song influenced Warhaus – the fluidity and uninhibited process provided an alternative and altogether less restrictive blueprint. One that was undoubtedly aided by their own solo projects.
On Leaving Antwerp, Balthazar are in unsurprisingly reflective state of mind, but the musical recipe is the same as it for the rest of Sand; an urbane mix of blue-eyed soul, stripped back funk and leisurely R&B all executed with a certain swing, in this case right down the to the jazzy, nonchalant sax solo.
It follows then that Sand, a soulful alt-pop embrace albeit less encumbered from the melancholic shackles of the past pursues this newfound road whilst providing the two writers and the band with their most cohesive album to date.
Highlighting the nuances of love, loss and life, Sand sees the writing duo of Devoldere and Deprez hitting new heights no more so than with the majestic On A Roll, glitchy undertones and sumptuous vocals propel this track to the fore but it’s one of many.
The dexterity of Devoldere and Deprez distinctive vocals are a highlight on the lovelorn narrative of You Won’t Come Around, whilst the rapturous Linger On provides yet more pop bliss bookending the album comes the louche, jazz-tinged Powerless.
PIAS and NMR (photo: press Balthazar)