After the delicately spacey live rendition of Boy Who Fell to Earth, Sheffield’s hottest act since Arctic Monkeys, Sam Scherdel, is back on anthemic form in his latest single, Balloon, recorded between Doncaster in the UK and Nashville in the states. The former recording location may not be synonymous with the same artistic glamour as the latter, but the Yorkshire roots of the highly acclaimed singer-songwriter are a substantial part of his roguishly relatable appeal.
Lyrically he never aims to uphold the image of infallibility; his whole-hearted die-hard romanticism has left scars across his discography; tracing them allows you to track what it means to be unapologetically human. Bold indie-rock anthems were barely beyond Sam Scherdel’s sonic repertoire before, but the Springsteen-ESQUE maverick spirit runs deep in the progressively enthralling veins of Balloon.
From ornate orchestral swells to ardent horn stabs to frenetic R.E.M.-reminiscent vocal pacing disrupting Scherdel’s signature gruff rock n roll harmonies, the tensile nature of the fluctuating panache of Balloon is bound to uplift even the most world-weary. Even though there’s a fair amount of ambiguity in the lyrics, the underlying melancholic concept gravitating around the intense desire to escape the fray of your own mind hammers home in a profoundly poignant way.
Pairing such visceral pain with instrumentals to rival the wholesome sanctuary in the latest Manic Street Preachers album created a playlist staple I will need little convincing to return to.
Review by Amelia Vandergast