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CD of The Week

Week of 11/27/23

    Bar Italia - The Twits (Matador)

    The first 2023 album (and first widely distributed effort overall) from London trio Bar Italia, Tracey Denim, was a refreshingly minimalist addition to the present wave of post-punk influenced acts from the UK. Rather than aiming to impress with energy or unpredictability, the album was full of laid-back, but extremely clever, portraits of urban life and romance. The Jesus and Mary Chain meets The xx’s self-titled album would be a fair sonic description. Arriving just six months later, The Twits is a very different album, speaking to the band’s versatility. All three members still trade largely deadpan vocals, but the instrumentation is fiercer and the production is fuller. Unfortunately, the songwriting is also less consistent. The best songs are highlights in the band’s discography thus far, but too much of the album is muddled and aimless.

    There is a strange correlation on the album where the songs with the oddest titles are the most memorable. “my little tony” features a propulsive riff and a killer opening line with Nina Cristane spitting out that “your pretentious ways make me die a little.” Meanwhile, “worlds greatest emoter” is driven by its peppy drumbeat and contains the best vocal interplay on the album. Later in the record, “Jelsy” is quieter, but has an appealingly slinky vibe and unique instrumentation (including what sounds like a xylophone cameo). Those three tracks demonstrate Bar Italia’s quick growth and while none of them have conventional structures (which is not generally a characteristic of the band’s music), strong melodies are still present. On the other hand, songs such as “twist,” “shoo,” and “bibs” fail to leave an impression and contribute to the monotony that plagues some of the album, which also runs longer than necessary at 47 minutes.

    All in all, The Twits is the weaker of the two 2023 releases from Bar Italia, but the addition of more aggressive textures speaks well to the band’s range and the potential for longevity. Maybe being less prolific in the future will result in albums that feature more of the strong lyrics and intriguing melodies of the best songs on The Twits.

    Bar Italia will performing at First Unitarian Church this Saturday, December 2nd.
    Review by Sol

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