EP: Barrie – ‘Singles’

The list of famous Barries in pop music essentially extends to one very short (if pretty successful) list of Messrs White, Manilow and Gibb. Newly added to that list are the five people who make up synth-rock combo Barrie, led by songwriter and lead vocalist Barrie Lindsay. Although based in New York, the group are a diverse bunch with three Americans (Barrie, Spurge and Noah), a Brit (drummer Dom, formerly of Is Tropical) and Brazilian (bassist Sabine). Originating from the songs written by Barrie as a solo performer, the group largely came together through Brooklyn’s The Lot online radio – before finding Sabine through an ad on a dating app. Their new EP, released on sky-blue 12” and tape cassette, brings together the bands’ three singles to date, coupled with remixes by FaltyDL and Shura (‘Canyons’), and Brother Michael (‘Michigan’).

First single, ‘Canyons’, originally released in February, kicks things off. Drops of bass act as a counter-point to funk guitar and sparkling top-note synths that dovetail with Barrie’s icicle vocals. As the track’s instrumentation spins into multiple layers, the sounds move towards shimmering dream-pop but with something chilly underpinning it, like an autumn evening on a beach.  

Second single ‘Tal Uno’ follows, arpeggiated and sweet, like an ’80s prom-night slowie, conjuring up images of frilly dresses and spinning glitter-balls. The key, again, is the gentle synths and their blend, contrasting with the song’s vocals – although here the rhythm section step up to flow closer to pop territory. If Tiffany had a cool older sister who made synthwave, then ‘Tal Uno’ is what she’d sound like. ‘Michigan’ completes the move into pop, verging on soft-rock with its nagging, hooky drum-machine and picked guitar. The synths are used here to offer a background melody, with vocals that are warmer, breathier and more vibrant on top.

In interviews, Barrie have said that their sound is a “future longing for hopeful nostalgia” and a reflection of the band’s qualities as “eclectic, accomplished [and] confident”. And it’s hard to disagree when the group’s first EP arrives sounding quite so polished and ice-cool. Between the chill vocals and imagist lyrics by their lead singer, the multiple layers of intricate percussion and infectious melodies, the group’s chill-synth soft-rock stylings prove that Barrie are truly ready to enter the pantheon of pop.

Singles is out now via Winspear.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

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