Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Part of me thinks that Balkans lead singer Frankie Broyles would be a guy you'd catch using the phrase that someone's a "sight for sore eyes" pretty often. He seems to live in a state of crashing and burning in the songs that he writes and he might find himself always be in need of someone pretty and familiar to bring him down smoothly. He needs someone to reach out and confirm if his skin is hot to the touch, if he's a little too frayed in the wrong places, if he's coming completely undone, if the wheels are two deep potholes away from cracking off and leaving the body stunned and behind. He sounds like someone whom you'd always find to be winded or half out of breath. He's racing down the mountain after the top has just blown itself clean off and the lava flow is approaching at a tremendous rate of speed. Of course, none of the things that makes him the most agitated and the band so furiously busy have anything to do with catastrophic natural disasters or rust buckets of cars, but more the common conditions of the people they love and, to a much smaller degree, themselves.
"Black Swan" is a song that Broyles, Stanley Vergilis, Brett Miller and Woodbury Shortridge give a poppy smack on the ass, while also giving it teeth and some balls, all the while making it sound like a tender letter of concern to a friend, wondering if they're doing okay. Broyles seems to be dealing with a needy girl, someone who stews and mopes. There's care in the voice, but just as much disdain, as if she's driving him absolutely batty. He sings, "Oh, girl are you not happy here/I've put together, bit-by-bit/I wanted to know now, ohh/You always need something." It's like there's no pleasing her, but it's not for the lack of trying. This unnamed girl's attitude is the cause of these shipwrecks. She's the one who caused the volcano to explode. She's the one who opened the gates and let all of the bulls and steers loose to terrorize the streets.
"Let You Have It" is an instance of everything boiling over, boiling onto everything as the roof starts to cave in, as the heads have finally butted. This is a disagreement and Balkans are no longer putting up with it. They're going to thrash and kick. They're going to get out of this trap. They're going to tell her off - she was the one who was always wrong. They've had it up to here. Things have gotten rough and out of control. It's not like this is rare. It happens a lot, or enough to produce an album's worth of songs. It's in those brief periods of time between the worst of the situations and the unknown next one that's bound to happen where Broyles would see a familiar face and he's say, "My, you're a sight for sore eyes." Then, as his luck might have it, the next outburst would be directed your way.