by: Maggie Luckadoo
With names like Karen O, David Byrne, and Katrina Ford on the track listing for Maximum Balloon’s debut self-titled release, it’s difficult to set the bar low for the album. And, after listening to said tracks, Maximum Balloon did not fail to meet my expectations. Best known for his role in TV On the Radio, Maximum Balloon is a side project of David Andrew Sitek.
It is clear from the beginning that this project is a complete departure from TV On the Radio’s sound for Sitek. The opening track, “Groove Me,” featuring Thelophilus London, is heavy on synth and sets off the rhythmic, dance-like tone which flows throughout the entire album. With Katrina Ford’s vocals on “Young Love,” the dance club feel continues and doesn’t stop until TV On the Radio Kyp Malone lends his voice to the track “Shakedown,” which has a slower, jazzier tempo. But even when Sitek reunited with Malone on Maximum Balloon, the end product sounded nothing like tracks on TV On the Radio’s albums. Also standing apart from Maximum Balloon’s dance tracks are “The Lesson” featuring Holly Miranda and “Pink Bricks” featuring Ambrosia Nicole Parsley, which have more sultry vocals. Karen O’s contribution to the album, “Communion,” was not reminiscent of anything she’s produced with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but is pleasantly surprising and one of Maximum Balloon’s strongest tracks.
Despite the wide range of vocals and sounds on each track, which vary with each contributor to the album, Maximum Balloon achieves a certain level of consistency. Those expecting to hear an album similar to TV On the Radio’s most recent releases, Return to Cookie Mountain and Dear Science, will be disappointed by Maximum Balloon. However, Sitek’s first solo venture can definitely be considered a success. Unique and upbeat, this album is full of solid dance tracks and unique rhythms. Hopefully, this will not be Sitek’s only release of this kind. 7/10
Album Picks: "If You Return," Communion," "Young Love"