Thursday, 6 March 2014

#257: Barstow Bats - Self-Titled (EP review)

Dumfries quartet Barstow Bats haven't, in the grand scheme of things, been a band for all that long.Formed in 2012 and signed a year later, it seems things have worked in the bands favour from pretty much the word go and while their sound isn't all that original, it doesn't have to be. Built on a foundation of 60s pop influences, contemporary indie and typical Scottish weather, the band's debut self-titled EP is four tracks of appropriated genres, gritty vocals and an untapped energy that runs riot across the record's reasonably short run time.

First track 'Play Piano' is a loose, jangly garage rock anthem that rattles towards it's conclusion with the same style and swagger as an early Strokes record. This, coupled with a romanticism that smacks of Dundee's The View, makes for an engaging opening track that encourages listeners to delve a little deeper. Similarly, 'Heartbreak Kicks' is a straight-to-the-point bluesy number complete with wailing guitar and chunky bass riffs. With nothing fancy at play, no opulent ornamentation, it's straight up, balls to the wall rock'n'roll that drips with the same swagger as it's predecessor.

Final track 'Marcitrio' is where the EP gets really interesting. With the first three songs upholding an almost reckless punk aesthetic behind the guitar licks, 'Marcitrio' is where you feel the wings of Barstow Bats begin to unfurl. A slow and mournful lament, the track relies almost solely on the vocal stylings and lyricism of Andrew Rendall, the instrumentation forming an ominous canvas on which the lyrics paint. It's a stark contrast to any of it's predecessors, but it suggests a deeper musicality can than anything it proceeds, and a maturity within the band collective. Great stuff.

Barstow Bats don't care if they're cool, and as a result, they fucking are. Drinking from a wealth of influences, their output certainly isn't as original as some might hope (with the exception of 'Marcitrio') but when it's put forth and brought to the fore with as much confidence and conviction as it is here, originally really doesn't matter. What does, is energy, and the clear enjoyment of the band in question and with the bucketloads of both that Barstow Bats come armed with, you really could do far worse than checking them out.

This review was originally for Listen Up Manchester. Click here to visit their site.