bar italia sounds like the 90s, especially if you were someone who obsessively purchased the Face and Select, the pricey UK imported magazines that provided insight on music that wasn’t on the radio in my suburban Ontario town. They remind me of late-night US college stations that required moving the arial around the room just to hear something that would need to be ordered straight from a record label in Michigan or Georgia or California.
Not surprising that the trio of Nina Cristante, Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton have been compared to Sebadoh and Sonic Youth, possess a little Bjorkish quirk, and I’m happy to add that the first song on bar italia’s third album Tracey Denim – their first on Matador – sounds like an indie rock Saint Etienne. It’s called “guard” and it is a little bit of guitar accompanied by a piano ditty with a touch of drums to get things moving. It’s near impossible not to like – and the rest of the album contains similar tunes, but also some more driving songs like the aptly named “punkt” (which, fittingly, sounds like Stereolab) and the clever “yes i have eaten so many lemons yes i am so bitte”, which is a Pavement-esque conversation between a couple who need a bit of space. “Maddington” is another dialogue, this time a lovely ballad with jangly guitar and airy vocals that float over the music.
The band is a bit of an enigma: no interviews, very little shared back story. But their music makes you feel like you’ve come across these folks before. This isn’t to suggest that bar italia doesn’t have their own little something something. It’s quite lovely to be reminded of three-decade old music but get to listen to brand new songs. “You could have them all if you try”, sings Fenton in “best in show”, and it appears that bar italia is trying – and this is not a bad thing. If the best new music sounds like an amalgam of the best music from 30 years ago, please do keep on keeping on and producing albums like this.
order Tracy Denim by bar italia HERE
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