A Certain Ratio - The Graveyard and the Ballroom

Post-Punk, New Wave

The angular, bass-heavy post-punk of A Certain Ratio could conceivably be compared to that of their Factory labelmates Joy Division (singer Simon Topping is a dead ringer vocally for Joy Division's Ian Curtis). One key difference is that A Certain Ratio has a more pronounced funk influence, which makes their music more danceable. Another difference is that Topping's lyrics, more abstract and even humorous (albeit in a dark, quirky way) are less dramatic than Curtis'. The Graveyard and the Ballroom, compiled from a collection of early four-track recordings and a set of live tracks (recorded when the band was opening for Talking Heads), shows off A Certain Ratio's strengths well. The sound is surprisingly good for such lo-fi recordings, and the band is, for all of their musical amateurishness, rather precise and controlled. Unfortunately, that highlights a key flaw of the album: Too often, it is accomplished enough to be intriguing, but never all that gripping. By emphasizing rhythm over melody, A Certain Ratio makes music that is interesting and danceable, but not hugely compelling. It's mechanically well-played, with quirky, interesting lyrics that never really seem to add up to anything more than an attention-grabbing sound. Nonetheless, those seeking an idiosyncratic, interesting art-funk band can do no wrong with this release, even if it ultimately falls short of any meaning beyond quirky experimentalism.


A Certain Ratio - The Graveyard and the Ballroom

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