bar italia – The Twits
bar italia's second album on Matador this year is at its best where the individual ideas of its three members intersect
bar italia are masters of homage. They embody the dissociated attitude of many a band from indie rock’s past. Their grit-flecked records could easily pass for long-lost slacker curios from the late 80s or early 90s, unearthed by obsessive collectors. But there's a vagueness to it, their references on the tip of the tongue, morphed enough to fog up your brain and leave you unsure of where they’re pulling from.
There are nods to Robert Smith in Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton’s bleary vocals, and the boy/girl drama brings to mind everyone from Slowdive to The xx across a full record. You spend so much time asking who they remind you of that you worry there isn’t anything of themselves in the songs.
A few more spins reveal a rare and exciting dynamic between the three members. They trade verses, taking songs in new directions, revelling in the tension where their individual ideas intersect. The Twits, their scrappy and expansive second album on Matador, is at its best in these moments. Brush w Faith moves from dreary, cyclical jamming to explosive angst in its final leg, while Nina Cristante turns 'worlds greatest emoter' into a curdled love story in the second half. The album works in short bursts of adrenaline. That can leave midtempo ballads like Shoo feeling aimless.
As a buzzy UK guitar band, many will inevitably ask if there’s substance behind the pastiche. Their two records from 2023 ask: what’s wrong with a good pastiche?
Listen to: glory hunter, Brush w Faith, worlds greatest emoter