NPR First Listen: Tank And The Bangas, ‘Green Balloon’


By Bob Boilen

Tank and the Bangas’ Green Balloon comes out May 3. Alex Marks/Courtesy of the artist

There’s no record quite like Green Balloon, and no band quite like Tank and the BangasGreen Balloon is 17 songs, featuring 75 minutes of roughly 30 creative souls, recorded in nearly 10 studios. They make music without boundary on instruments ranging from sax, flute, cello, vocal scratches, keyboards, synths, real drums, fake drums, a djembe and, of course, the poetry, philosophy, comedy and voice that is Tarriona “Tank” Ball.

Tank and the Bangas, Green Balloon

Green Balloon comes out May 3 via Verve Forecast.

In 2017, Tank and the Bangas won our hearts with its entry to NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest. Now the band members have made their first major label album with producers Robert GlasperZaytoven, Mark Batson, Jack Splash, Louie Lastic, fulfilling both their vision and creating something beyond their imagination.

Tank has written via Instagram that Green Balloonmakes her feel “like the girl I was in middle school. Every song resonates to each person I was in my life up until now. I’ve been “green” with envy, green with naïveté; I’ve bought green and gotten High, I’ve felt like a balloon…full of myself and floating away and also held down. And like all green things…I’ve also changed, and I’ve grown. Green Balloon is every version of myself that I’ve met so far.”

This is a rare audio journey that sometimes blossoms in the form of soulful pop songs such as “Nice Things” or “Smoke.Netflix.Chill.” But what sets this album aside are the creative studio improvs presented in the form of interludes, including “Get Up” where I can feel the magic congealing in the moment. While most albums try to document the recording of songs, Green Balloon chronicles the experimental vision — the underlying philosophy that is Tank and the Bangas. This stuff is serious fun!