Published Oct 14, 2016These days, concept album is often synonymous with epic-length compositions and sometimes tedious listens, in a time where singles dominate and attention spans are miniscule. But Rhonda, the latest from Toronto-based pop-rockers the Balconies, eschews these notions. Clocking in at a compact 37 minutes, Rhonda is the story of a fictional artist — some of the tale is autobiographical for the band — who strives to remain true to herself on the road to success.
Rhonda serves as the followup to the Balconies' 2014 release Fast Motions, and it's the first to feature only founding members Jacquie Neville (whose vocals are stronger than ever) and Liam Jaeger, accompanied by session musicians (Jacquie's brother Steve was previously in the band but left amicably to pursue other priorities). The true dynamic of the story is best discovered listening to the entire self-produced album in one go, but most of the tracks can stand alone, too.
Some tunes are certainly stronger than others — the title track and "Money Money" are two highlights — but there's plenty of musical variety to be experience here. More rooted in '80s and '90s pop than its predecessor, Rhonda is a testament to an evolving band that continue to explore the breadth of their creativity and push their boundaries. (Independent)