British quartet New Electric Ride first caught our eye early last year with a very solid self-released EP, followed by an incredible single titled 'All Who You Know'. Their debut album Balloon Age therefore comes as a natural result of these two successful experiences, seeing the band expand their orchestral horizons without losing touch with their melodic side.

A grandiose baroque-styled opening prepares us for what lies ahead; 'Ode To A Bumblebee' (a clear reference to the opening track of their self-titled EP 'Mr Bumblebee') is a prelude to New Electric Ride's first full-length adventure, leaving the San Francisco-coloured 'Here Comes The Bloom' the honours of being the proper first track on the album. 'Marquis De Sade' then appears as one of the main highlights'. Starting off relatively low-key at the beginning, its fuzzy guitars are soon taken over by vocal harmonies that provide a comfortable ground for the upcoming sudden changes in the song's structure. A cinematic middle riff invites us to enter the track through a different door - an insane mix of melody snippets and French spoken word (an obvious reference to the track's title); a dizzy vibe that suddenly changes with the following song.

'Bye Bye (Baton Rouge)' breathes Byrds-esque harmonies throughout, with a catchy chorus placing itself inside our heads. 'A Submarine Song' is a wonderful homage to the best of British music, mixing paisley-patterned psychedelia with notorious traces of '90s Britpop. It's sweet, catchy, and has a cute little ending that puts a smile on your face like you're watching the opening credits of your favourite cartoon as a kid. The first half of the album is closed by 'Bring What You Expect To Get', one of the first singles from the release that sees great psych-pop living in harmony with violin and sitar arrangements.

'I Feel So Invited' does to 'In Chains' what 'Ode To a Bumblebee' did to 'Here Comes The Bloom': a precious little intro, this time built with perfectly harmonized vocals à-la Beatles' 'Because', followed by a sudden rush of guitar riffs and drums that by mid-track are joined by a keyboard that sends us back to the late '60s (the song kind of reminded me of Turquoise's 'Woodstock' opening). 'Lovers' is another previously-released single, with the smooth Cream-esque guitar preparing us for the dark, patchouli-scented lullaby that soon transforms into the bucolic 'I Can't Help But Smile' (I'm obviously going to reference Jethro Tull here, but it's probably just the flute leading me that way). The celtic-influenced song is filled with communes in the mountains and thanksgiving rituals offered to Mother Earth: it's a middle-ages troubadour visiting a village for a wine-filled night and leaving a couple of broken hearts behind. 'The Beyond' incorporates a clever sitar riff and a quiet ending that provides the necessary epicness to the album's closing track - the dreamy 'From Under Me'.

Balloon Age is a very consistent album, with experimentation and expertise in equal measures - allowing the band's melodies to breathe without falling victim to retro-clichés, nor embarking on foggy trips through what I call the "grey-areas" of psych: something only labelled as "psychedelic" because no one really knows what it is. This is an album I'm going to listen to a lot over the next few years, for it is both refreshing and comforting. Excellent job, guys.