Five Favourites: Barrie

Set to release her upcoming second album later this month, New York artist Barrie Lindsay – aka Barrie – has been charming our ears with her shimmering sounds for some time now. Ahead of the album’s release, she has now shared ‘Jenny‘ – a poignant reflection on falling in love with her wife. Flowing with twinkling melodies as her delicate crystalline vocals emanate a stirring emotion, it’s a beautifully uplifting offering, celebrating the comfort of finding home in another person.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of her new album, we caught up with Barrie to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five ‘perfect pop songs’ that she loves and have inspired her sound. Check them out below, and listen to ‘Jenny’ at the end of this article!

The La’s – ‘There She Goes’
I first heard this in the Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap movie, and I come back to it constantly. It’s such a Motown song with the beat, melody, harmonies and loud, live-sounding production – it makes no sense that it came out in 1988. And it perfectly rides the line of happy and melancholy. It seems so simple but the structure and progressions are really hard to pin down. It’s particularly special to me because my dad and I used to play this song on guitar together — it’s really fun on a 12-string.

Robyn – ‘Call Your Girlfriend’
Robyn is a master of minimal maximalism, like SOPHIE. And she’s so committed to the character of Robyn, it’s really inspiring. The Robyn songs that click for me are the ones that have her special mix of drive and melancholy. She gets the perfect balance of hopeful and desperate. I’ve tried many times to write a Robyn song, and I’ll probably keep trying to for a long time. I love running to this song, and it blows my mind that a song is capable of making you physically stronger.

Alvvays – ‘Dreams Tonite’
Beyond the great songwriting (the anticipated chord change in the chorus!), there’s a lyric in this that I think about a lot when I’m songwriting: “On the turnpike, one of Eisenhower’s.” It feels like they are breaking a rule or something – lyrics in popular music don’t reference mundane parts of history like Eisenhower building the turnpikes; it’s a throwaway line that packs so much. The line makes me rethink the inevitability of the way society operates, how everything in our society was designed by some person- it sends me on an entire other existential thread. And particularly at a point where you’re songwriting and can’t or don’t want to delve into yourself for lyrics, why not poke at the things in the world around us that we take for granted as part of everyday life? And ultimately, they all shed light on human behaviour and therefore lead to human connection, like you hope for in a song.

Billy Preston – ‘Nothing From Nothing’
This song feels like pure joy. Great musicianship, great melodies. It’s playful, and after years of listening to it, I still get the same amount of joy from it; it reminds me of dancing in the kitchen as a kid with my family. He was an incredible pianist, and what a great rag-timey piano sound. I joined my school’s gospel choir in college, and got exposed to contemporary gospel music like Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Kurt Carr, and Hezekiah Walker. This song has a lot of the same driving and uplifting qualities as contemporary gospel, which makes sense since Billy Preston came up playing in church. A lot of what I like about this song is the same as what I like about gospel music. So much flair and musicianship from the instrumentalists. They’re so tight.

Britney Spears – ‘How I Roll
I first heard this song in 2012 and I was blown away. So many great textures, so chaotic, and also somehow so pure. Underneath the micro beats and totally synthetic, unnatural sounds, it’s just a hand-clapping game song. I like that they threw everything at the song, like a no-bad-ideas session, and then honed every single detail. Everything feels deliberate; it’s experimental but in the name of joy rather than self-indulgence or pretension. How cool that Britney Spears went for this?!

Massive thanks to Barrie for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Barbara, her upcoming new album, is set for release on 25th March via Winspear. Listen to latest single ‘Jenny’ below.

Photo Credit: Alexa Viscius

ALBUM: Barrie – ‘Happy To Be Here’

It’s sort of like waking up from a deep sleep, scattered with dreams, when the first lilts of album opener ‘Darjeeling’ hit you. Barrie Lindsay’s voice, oozing with harmony, doesn’t do much to dispel the slightly woozy feeling that permeates through Happy to Be Here, the debut album from her and the semi-eponymously named fivepiece Barrie. By the time you hear the feet on the stairs of its middle eight (reflecting lyrics of the same phrase), you know you’re in for an imagist ride of many colours, albeit one that’s still meticulously plotted out.

If dream pop is your bag, it’s here in spades. The ’90s video game ether of ‘Dark Tropical’ and its synthy hook; the atmosphere builder of the full fat electronic keys in ‘Saturated’; ‘Teenager’ with its horn-like synth blobs.

That being said, the band are a mixed-up bunch and underneath the sparkle, there’s something slightly more frenetic. Drummer Dominic Apa also plays with Brit electronic rock act, Is Tropical, whilst multi-instrumentalists Spurge Carter and Noah Prebish are DJs who originally bonded over a shared love of house. Sabine Holler, meanwhile, is a German performance artist that the band recruited via a dating app. And somehow, all of this is audible in the mishmash wall-of-sound that typifies the likes of ‘Habits’, with its high-life guitar and post-punk bass, and ‘Chinatown’, with its classic pop-meets-chillwave and delightfully stringy guitar solo. ‘Geology’, meanwhile, crosses genre and decades as its summery West Coast ’60s soul guitar verses flow into ’90s dance-pop choruses.

The standout though is lead-single ‘Clovers’. It, too, shares the mammoth thump in its choruses, as its synths build, blare and bloop all over Barrie’s vocals, extending that middle syllable of the song’s title for what feels like aeons. But here, it’s the contrast with the verses that really make the bombast worth it. Simple, almost childlike lyrics backed by single note piano melodies that stop just as the song explodes back into life. Its harmonised vocal acapella closing is perfect too – syrupy and satisfying.

Shout-outs to album closers too: penultimate track ‘Casino Run’, which evokes synthwavers College (of ‘Real Hero’ from the Drive soundtrack), and finale ‘Hutch’, which is about as close to straightforward pop as the LP gets, piano-led with Barrie’s honeyed voice poured over the top.

The press that came with the album describes it as “snapshots of the band coming together”, and that “inclusivity and friendship is at the heart of Barrie”. Given the disparate nature of how the five individuals came together, and then managed to make it work so well, the latter must certainly be true. It’s the former that sticks with you, though, after the album has finished. The sense of being young, in a squad, kicking around a town. And that’s especially true when you find out that many of these songs were written as part of Barrie Lindsay’s initial career as a solo artist. When it comes to the debut she’s just released, you can take it that her bandmates are indeed happy to be here.

Happy To Be Here, the debut album from Barrie, is out now via Winspear.

John McGovern

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

Track Of The Day: Barrie – ‘Michigan’

Brooklyn-based multi-national band Barrie met through a mutual friend at a community-run radio station, and recruited bassist Sabine through a Tinder profile set up to track down a suitable candidate. Now, having just announced their debut EP and following the luscious sound of ‘Tal Uno’, they’re back with a brand new single.

Taken from the upcoming EP, ‘Michigan’ is a truly uplifting slice of sweeping psych-pop. With perhaps “more traditional rock-band style instrumentation” than previous singles, it flows with an infectious, funk-filled groove as sparkling hooks and smooth, sultry vocals soar throughout, creating a simply dreamy offering that demands multiple listens.

Singles, the upcoming debut EP from Barrie, is out 12th October on 12″ vinyl and digital via Winspear.

Mari Lane