All the words

Gloom Balloon is Patrick Tape Fleming and Christopher Ford. They're from Iowa. Fleming has a two-year-old son and has said that this is pretty much the summation of his creative output. That's a seriously condensed explanation of this album, but it does cover most of the bases.

Gloom Balloon
Drying the Eyes of the Goddess of Gloom, Underneath the Stars and the Moon
(Maximum Ames)

As you might expect from the band name and album title, this is art pop that has a lot to say. Fleming envisioned these songs as a long note to his son, to be played whenever his son asks him, "Dad, why are you such an asshole?" I can get behind that, as I hear that question most days (my two oldest are fifteen and twelve). The songs are packed with idea both musical and lyrical, and they often come off a bit collage-y. Kinda like Lambchop meets the Flaming Lips.

And if you're gonna get stuck between two bands, that's a nice, weird place to be. Gloom Balloon has an elegiac feel to its songs (a bit like late Beatles or any number of not-quite louche 70s bands). Each song is a journey, and the album is a greater manifestation of that ideal.

Does it all make sense? No. This is the unspooling of a mind. It is cluttered, messy and sometimes random. There is a majestic beauty to the chaos, though, as Fleming and Ford do have a real knack for pretty sounds. The structure is solid, even if the ingredients are unconventional.

If Fleming never makes another album, I'd say he can be happy. This final Gloom Balloon effort is a worthy statement. My guess is, though, he'll realize he has more to say after living a bit longer. That's the nature of the artist. And the world is a better place because of that.

Jon Worley

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