Pink Balloons by Ekko Astral album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions. The Lp is out today via Top Shelf Records and DSPs


Pink Balloons

Ekko Astral

“If you walk through a cemetery / you’ll find people / buried under gravestones of strangers. / I have friends still hiding / while you throw a parade.” Ekko Astral, “mascara moshpit” music out of DC, cover a lot of ground on their latest album, from trying to be your “Baethoven,” to singing about the vulture-ism of Capitalism on their punky “On Brand.” But the main undercurrent is fighting against gender-based violence and the sometimes precarious situation that queer and non-mainstream people find themselves in in our society.

“Garage princess post-punk,” they call themselves on their Bandcamp bio, and pink balloons is a fitting title for an album of songs, that expresses the fragility, beauty, and often buoyancy of a community that could, however, be popped in a moment. Their music is an amalgamation of punk and post-punk sounds, and their lyrics, by lead vocalist Jael Holzman, are always clever and thought-provoking, often utilizing modern pop and cultural references to garner the listener’s attention and make piercing and alternately sad and humorous social commentary.

“Is it bon eye-ver or bon iver? / I don’t care / I’ve got stalkers outside / not going out tonight / gonna sit and take pics / in my underwear.” In their album, they expose the superficiality of hipness, through their own post-hipness. “She needs an uwu type beat,” they sing on the thrashing third track of the album, referring to the emoticon depicting a cute face. There’s a combination of vulnerable sensitivity and guttural strength, in both their lyrics and their visceral sound.

While their strength and the thing that has garnered them attention in the DC music scene is their raucous music and live performances, the album is not a straight aural assault. There are a lot of softer moments on the record, notably the track named after DC landmarks, “somewhere at the bottom of the river between l’enfant and eastern market,” which parallels a monologue about growing more serious about youth gender violence (by suicide or by murder alike) with a talk with her father about growing older. Followed ingeniously with a poppy acoustic “off-brand” guitar song about feeling young, called “make me young.”

It’s a powerful album, it’s a cool album. It’s worth your attention and might get you another new favorite band to follow, who are carving their own way in the DC and national indie music scene. If you like your music with a combination of puzzly and sincere lyrics, a band who are able to communicate a timely message in a way that is never boring, you might enjoy this post-punk explosion of a band out of DC.

Order Pink Balloons by Ekko Astral HERE


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