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Album reviews with Ian Sinclair: June 11, 2019

Barrie
Happy To Be Here
(Winspear)
★★★★

HAVING met and started the band in New York, Brooklyn five-piece Barrie — named after talented songwriter and lead singer Barrie Lindsay —  have recorded an ultra-cool, hipster-friendly debut.

It very much sounds like it’s about being young and alive in a big city, its synth-heavy dream-pop bringing to mind other contemporary indie outfits such as Vampire Weekend and the lush retro arrangements of Ariel Pink.

With its perfect opening bars, Darjeeling could easily be on the score to Noah Bambach’s 2015 Mistress America film, while the sprightly Chinatown and Geology are built around exquisite guitar hooks.

Which all makes sense when you know that the band have said they are united in their love for “a well-crafted pop song that’s a little bit fucked-up.”

Romantic with an engaging lightness, Happy To Be Here signposts a bright future for Barrie.

Neil Young and Stray Gators
Tuscaloosa
(Warner Bros)
★★★★

RECORDED at a concert in Alabama in February 1973, Neil Young’s latest live-archive release documents a restless moment in his early music career, the Canadian singer-songwriter feeling artistically imprisoned by the success of his bestselling 1972 Harvest album.

Backed by his Stray Gators band, Tuscaloosa includes his global hits — introducing Heart of Gold, Young jokes that he turned down an advertising deal for the tune — but arguably the most electrifying moments are those that signpost his new musical interests.

The ramshackle Times Fades Away sounds like an outtake from Highway 61 Revisited, while the rocking Lookout Joe, later to appear on 1975’s Tonight’s The Night, is dedicated to soldiers returning from Vietnam.

Most exciting of all is the wayward epic Don’t Be Denied, a highly autobiographical and passionate song with an insistent message of carpe diem at its core.

The Rhythm Method
How Would You Know I Was Lonely?
(Moshi Moshi Records)
★★★★

WITH their brilliant first record, London’s The Rhythm Method — Joey Bradbury and Rowan Martin —take their place in a long line of very British pop songwriters chronicling the glorious shiteness of life in Blighty.

Imagine Mike Skinner got together with Squeeze’s Chris Difford and had a much-loved son whose favourite uncle was Ian Dury.

Backed by beats, synths, keyboards and the occasional guitar, each track includes about ten jokes and multiple, often obscure, British cultural references, from Jimmy White’s brother on the Cool For Cats-sounding Local, Girl to night buses and rail replacements on Sex and the Suburbs.

The video to the Cigarettes & Alcohol-citing Ode 2 Joey even includes a cameo by the Morning Star. With its sweet sincerity and pleasing DIY vibe, How Would You Know I Was Lonely? is the most assured debut in years.

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