PREMIERE: It’s goddamn Friday so put a smile on your dial with Operatic Optimism, the debut EP from Balko

Sydney is having somewhat of a watershed year for killer new rock acts. So far 2017 has knocked it out of the park for all things punk, garage, fuzz and psych; a brimming scene ripened by long hair, guitar picks and shoddily sewn together band tees.

You’d think such a whirlpool of outrageous talent couldn’t be sustainable, that surely the maelstrom had to stop spinning at some point. How can Sydney keep spitting these acts out?

You’d think that, but then again… yesterday you probably hadn’t heard of Balko.

balko band sydney operatic optimism

Sydney’s latest rock output Balko have run rings around the competition with Operatic Optimism, a stunningly effective debut outpouring.

In the rugged realm of rock n roll, optimism is a trait rarely seen. The gritty image of the forlorn, guitar-slinging cynic has become too ingrained in modern consciousness to illicit any other picture when you hear the term ‘rockstar’. Somewhere between the 1960s and today, seeing the world through a sunny lens became uncool… for no fucking reason.

It’s why Balko are so frighteningly refreshing on Operatic Optimism. These four smiley lads from Sydney have thrown shade at rock stereotypes by embodying its polar opposite; a heightened, clowny state of glass-half-fullness that’s completely enchanting.

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And when you cast this aside, you’re opened up to the strength of their debut EP musically. Throughout the six track run time Operatic Optimism takes more twists and turns than the Zig Zag Railway, cracking open the lid on just about every corner modern rock has.

Opener False Prophet shoots straight down the line established by modern indie rock luminaries like Cage the Elephant or Kingswood, a driven track led by rough-edged riffing and a dynamite vocal performance.

Purple Peaches opens up Balko’s romance with synthesizers by welcoming a horde of spacey arpeggiated lines, cascading across the top of the mix like shooting stars. It’s within this veiled realm that most of their keyboard work sits throughout the EP, almost as if they were trying to hide a face that’s nearly indie pop beneath their rocker exteriors.

Mind you it’s a relationship that never dampens the whole package, rather lifting the meat of the EP into a more palatable space through crafty instrumental layering.

Thumb flirts with a lowered BPM and a higher-than-recommended dosage of the wah pedal (that’s a compliment, by the way), while EP closer S.A.P. attacks listeners with jabs rather than lumbering swings. This final track is an absolute tour de force of Balko’s vocal range, ripping between guttural outbursts and squeaky clean melodies with a virtuoso’s ease.

The defining factor of Operatic Optimism is in its variety. Every track presents a different facet of Balko’s sound, transmitted in their own special way. You’ll find your own little silver lining in all six of these songs, whether it be after the 1st or 50th listen.


Balko will be officially launching Operatic Optimism on April 29th at Old Dave’s Soul in Coogee. Details here – don’t miss out.