bar italia are going back to the garage.
For those unfamiliar, bar italia is a London, England-based band specializing in their own brand of moody, off-kilter and charmingly experimental guitar alt-pop. It’s hard to square them into a genre, but the ol’ reliable “post-punk” label may be a half-decent signifier for curious ears.
Recently, bar italia released their newest single, “my little tony”.
“my little tony” is the first single from their newly announced upcoming album, entitled The Twits (releasing November 3rd on Matador Records). “tony” throws aside the slick, dynamically matured and produced sound of their previous release, “Tracey Denim”, in favor of a surprisingly raucous sound and rawer sensibility.
It’s a tune that rambles as much as it roars.
Things kick off immediately upon hitting play. Guitars- already around peak volume- charge in, blended together with the delightfully distorted bassline in a thick soup of rock-and-roll bliss. The chords are a bit muddled in the cacophony, but not enough to warrant concern. It’s fun.
Nina Cristante’s playful and smoothly mocking vocals follow almost immediately; “your pretentious ways… make me die a little,” she sings, humbling an ambiguous subject (Tony? Is that you?). The rest of her first verse continues in a similar fashion, and her refrain “keep playing with my receiving hand… ‘cause you know you lost the game” plays well after the home-run hook that gets laid down by the band. Things repeat and continue.
The brief instrumental towards the end of the song provides a fleeting break from the loopy structure, but when the refrain begins again, you find yourself feeling as though there are perhaps adjectives besides “loopy” that better characterize the continual nature of the track. Maybe “awesome” is a better word. Or perhaps you’re too busy tapping your foot to care.
The track ends the same way it began: without apology.
Alternating between spaced-out, delightfully dusty yet infectious late-night-walk-home rock and lushly charged indie that nears a description of anthemic, bar italia’s last album “Tracey Denim” was a hooky, thoughtfully produced crop of moody bangers. Things seem to change with “my little tony”; whereas “Tracey Denim” recalled the darker, more geometric songwriting of early-2000s Pinback or Interpol, “tony” harkens back more so to loosely spun garage influences of the same era.
The band retains its edge and recognizability with their simple, catchy vocal lines and hallmark London aesthetics, and despite its heavy strumminess, the track fortunately manages to avoid straying too close to the unforgiving gravitational pull of the (arguably) overly revivalist (and now dated) garage rock sound of the 2010s. “tony” is familiar, but thankfully it doesn’t beat a dead horse. Both Tracey Denim and “tony” prove that a certain degree of referentiality is okay, and bar italia knows this more than anyone.
Does it set off alarm bells for a shift in their sound? Perhaps it’s a bit early to tell. But make no mistake- this is still the bar italia we love- and they (and I) think you should stick around for more.
Watch the music video for “my little tony” below.