In an interview this past summer with Bandcamp, Boston-based artist Ed Balloon cited two of his major influences: Of Montreal and Maxwell. Though these sound like disparate poles, repeat listens of his new EP Yellow 20-Somethings prove his brilliant precision lies exactly in the distillation of these two extremes.
Dubbed “alternative R&B” (for lack of better language, let me work on some for next time) Ed Balloon marries the freneticism of glam-psych-rock production with his mellow, lush vocals that do evoke a great like Maxwell, but come across as more conversational and accessible.
I’d argue though, that the rhythmic and staccato spoken sections mixed in with Balloon’s crooning land him firmly in the realm of hip-hop. Regardless, it’s not like Yellow 20-Somethings only finds inspiration in two sources, the second release from Balloon — following last October’s No Smoking — is a series of introspective thoughts spooled out over fringe-pop beats. But his ever-shifting, upbeat style belies the depth and darkness of the lyrics.
In that same interview with Bandcamp (Side note: Did you know the site has an editorial branch now? Definitely check it out if not) he described his music as it living at the intersection between socially-conscious and inward reflection:
I’m very conscious in my music. I don’t make songs without messages. In this new project, I’ll be talking about things that are relevant to my current state—the effects of the constant hardships put on black people, and how to fight through it. I’m also going to talk about being at my age and being broke and many other things.