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

PLAYLIST: June 2018

We’re mid-way through 2018, and we’re ready to share another playlist packed with fresh new sounds for your very eager ears! Take some time to scroll through our track selections, hit play on the Spotify link below, and let your ears fill up with the glorious new sounds of June…

Fever Ray – ‘If I Had A Heart’
Fever Ray were one of the headliners of Field Day this year and it could not have been a better end to the festival, hypnotic beats, terrifyingly warped vocals and an explosive stage performance. Gender bending outfits, with reverberating sound all whipped up together by the psychedelic and endorphin inducing visuals. When this track started I lost my mind – wow wow wow. (Tash Walker)

Catgod – ‘Keep My Promises’
Lead by sibling duo Robin and Catherine, Catgod’s new single interweaves swirling folk-tinged melodies with trip-hop inspired beats. As Robin’s soaring vocals are perfectly complemented by Cat’s exquisite harmonies, it showcases the band’s unique musicality in a cinematic soundscape that’ll captivate on first listen. Heartbeat In My Hand, the debut EP from Catgod, is out 22nd June. (Mari Lane)

Dott – ‘Bleached Blonde’
Galway’s Dott have released the perfect single for girls who love sunshine, surfing, and super-catchy garage pop anthems. The track is taken from their upcoming album Heart Swell, which is set to be released via Graveface Records on 8th June. It’s not on Spotify yet, but you can watch the video for it below. (Kate Crudgington)

S4U – ‘Heart’
‘Heart’ is the latest single London-based duo S4U (Something For You) taken from their upcoming Mixtape Heart 2 Say, which will be released via Different Recordings on 6th July. Looking forward to that a lot… I’m loving S4U’s new low-slung R&B experimental electro with some heavy 90s influences. Of the track S4U says “Curved, Parallel conscious, sub conscious, the synergy of heart and mind generates wise choices that benefit all. In other words as you appreciate that which is appreciating you. It is a wonderful thing to hold someone as your object of attention while you feel that G force Roses in Britain” Lovely. (TW)

The Menstrual Cramps – ‘Make Girls Feel Good’
Combining activism with musical prowess, The Menstrual Cramps provide a captivating force that we all need now more than ever.  With their fist-clenching ferocity, racing catchy hooks and a tongue in cheek wit, they create truly infectious punk-rock anthems. And this track is no exception – an epic dose of empowering energy, with lyrics like “you always look like such perfection that you don’t even need to try”, it’ll leave you feeling good and ready to take on the world. And we CANNOT WAIT to see The Menstrual Cramps headline for us at The Finsbury on Friday(ML) 

Slowcoaches – ‘Found Down’
Having previously captured our hearts with the totally epic, anti-toxic-masculinity anthem ‘Complex’, Slowcoaches are back with a new single. Racing with a seething energy, ‘Found Down’ hits your ears with its scuzzy riffs and the raw, angst-driven vocals of Heather Perkins. Oozing an immense, punk-fuelled power, it’s a perfect blast of raging honesty that we need now more than ever. (ML)

Placebo – ‘Scared Of Girls’
I scored tickets to Placebo’s Meltdown gig at Southbank Centre (curated by Robert Smith) and although this will be the fourth time I’ve seen them (quit bragging Kate), my heart is still beating double time with joy at the prospect of potentially hearing this track live. I imagine this song title accurately describes how most men feel when they see me dancing to it on a night out… (KC)

The Joy Formidable – ‘Dance Of The Lotus’
This is the band responsible for getting me in to alternative music a decade ago, so when I heard new single ‘Dance Of The Lotus’, my inner 18 year old imploded. They’re playing Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival on the same day as NIN, and they’ll be playing at one of my favourite venues, The Lexington, in August. I missed out on tickets for both, so if anyone wants to help a girl out…I write good reviews… (KC)

Hilary Woods – ‘Inhaler’
‘Inhaler’ is the first single from Hilary Woods’ upcoming debut solo album Colt, which is set to be released via my favourite label Sacred Bones Records on 8th June. It’s a pensive, delicate, melancholy track about her struggles with homesickness, and it’s going to sound beautiful live when ringing out against the walls of St Pancras Old Church on 11th June. (KC)

VTR – ‘Soul To Skin’
‘Soul To Skin’ is taken from Brixton duo VTR’s recently released EP of the same name via Dream Diary. So sultry, so smooth, so seductive. This track reverberates around my ears giving me so much audible pleasure, very excited to hear more from these two in the future. (TW)

Barrie – ‘Tal Uno’
The new single from Brooklyn’s Barrie, ‘Tal Uno’ is filled with jangly hooks and swooning vocals, creating a totally dreamy, twinkling soundscape. As glistening synth-filled melodies glide alongside glitchy beats, it’s impossible not to float away in the shimmering, psychedelic haze that Barrie create. (ML)

ELA Lindsey – ‘Healing Me Slow’
This is the debut track from Nashville’s singer-songwriter ELA Lindsey who found her musical passion later in life starting at the age of 29. She says that by releasing this single she hopes to inspire other women to start their artistic journeys later than the typical industry standard usually allows. ‘Healing Me Slow’ has been firmly stuck in my head over the last couple of weeks, starting with her sweet and gentle vocals, then breaking down into this dark electro synth laden TUNE. With all the hooks and loops I could ever want. INTO IT. (TW)

Tigercats – ‘Candy’s Tailor’
Tigercats’ new single ‘Candy’s Tailor’ is filled with twinkling, jangly melodies and uptempo, calypso-like beats. Flowing with raw vocals and rich layers of sound, it’s an utterly uplifting summer anthem, and I’m already getting pretty excited about seeing these guys at Indietracks Festival next month! Pig City, the new album from Tigercats, is out now. (ML)

Nine Inch Nails – ‘Ringfinger’
I only discovered the true glory of NINs last year (always late to the party, when will I learn?) but I’m seeing Trent Reznor & co twice this month – at Meltdown Festival & The Royal Albert Hall – and I am nerve-shreddingly excited. ‘Ringfinger’ is one of my favourite tracks on 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine, and although they’re unlikely to play it live – I’ll still be bouncing off the walls in anticipation leading up to the gigs. (KC)

Photo Credit: Slowcaoches shot by Priti Shikotra