Occasionally, a band will come through, releasing an album that has me absolutely obsessed. This year so far, bar italia is that band. After releasing a series of shorter albums with Quarrel in 2020 and Bedhead in 2021, they have now shared what feels like their breakthrough project. If I’m honest, I don’t know much about the band, only discovering them last week. They’re a London-based trio consisting of Nina Cristante, Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton, and have released an EP on Dean Blunt’s World Music label. Their shoegaze, melancholic, indie sound is emotive and utterly captivating. Tracey Denim is their third full-length release, and is by far their most complete body of work to date.
15 tracks and 44 minutes in length, the album is consistently great throughout its runtime, with gorgeous yet moody melodies, accompanied by incredible drumming, hazy vocals and poignant lyrics. The album kicks off with “guard”, a playful track with an incredibly beautiful guitar lead that shimmers over synths and drumming, with Nina singing about not being in control of your mind, losing focus and direction. It’s a groovy and fascinating start to an album that just gets better and better. The shoegaze sound on “Nurse!” is incredible, with a song about identity it seems, with a trashing, emphatic energy that is just incredible. It’s one of the early highlights on the album for sure. “punkt” has these dynamic guitar riffs that are full of energy and personality. It’s again a song about losing control of mind and body. The themes throughout are deep and reflective, often speaking about anxiety and self-doubt. “my kiss era” is another incredible track, a slow-paced ballad that builds in intensity as the track goes on. “All my favorite people are misunderstood / I need to break it to believe it / Ignore your last mistake, you always said that helped / I know a place where you can be yourself” are some of my favourite lyrics on the album, and when those heavier guitar riffs come in, it elevates the track to new heights. “F.O.B” is a similarly heavy track, with a playful melody as well. There’s something very trip-hoppy about “Missus Morality”, a sonically light and playful track, with its groovy bassline and drum rhythms. “yes i have eaten so many lemons yes i am so bitte” has some great heavy riffs, while “changer” is a smoother, more subtle and melodic track, capturing their aura beautifully. “Horsey Girl Rider” has some moody vocals that are smooth and incredibly catchy as well, while “NOCD” has these hazy guitars and groovy rhythms that again sound incredible, while the dreary “best in show” has passionate vocals that sound broken and full of pain and angst. “Clark” and “harpee” are catchy tracks, the former having a more upbeat groove and playful rhythm, with the latter one being slightly moodier and more introspective in tone. “Friends” feels like a 90s throwback with its fuzzy guitars and playful melody, while “maddington” is an uplifting closer, with incredible strings and an emphatic guitar lead that just carries on until its conclusion. “So I close my eyes and try to breathe / To try to leave you behind me / So I close my eyes and dive deep in / To see where I can find you”, are the words that close the album out, a beautiful way to describe someone letting go of the past and embracing the future ahead.
bar italia have created a sublime body of work with Tracey Denim that is very likely going to be one of my most replayed albums of the year. The soft, sensual sound of their music is complemented by reflective lyrics on mental health and trying to find peace despite the madness. A recommendation for anyone into indie, post-punk music. Listen to bar italia’s Tracey Denim below and don’t forget to support!
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