Barrie’s debut album, Happy To Be Here, is ambient dream pop which bubbles over with pleasurable energy. It arrived in my life at the perfect moment to remind me how music can impact our lives. The album provided me with a much-needed escape.
It has been one hell of a week. A swath of storms blew through Atlanta last Friday and my basement became a reeking cement pond in a matter of a few minutes. I never expected this kind of a mess. My home flooded due to a power outage, sump pump failure, and six and a half inches of rain in only a few hours. The measurement is inconsequential, all I know is my basement and all of our stored belongings were drenched, saturated, dripping, and beginning to create a stench that would eventually permeate the strongest, thickest floorboards. Any more detail isn’t necessary, but know my spirit was temporarily broken.
After several days of draining mucky water, clearing out a path to walk, and moving belongings at breakneck speed, I found a tiny inkling of order and relief. I was finally able to set aside the time to listen to Barrie’s debut album. Little did I know, their dream pop, sparkly tunes were the perfect antidote for my discouraged mood. Closing my eyes to the chaos with headphones on, I listened as their jangly tunes transported me to crisp sunny skies and the youthful freedom of summer. My mind was diverted by way of their joyous eclectic sound, enhanced by Barrie Lindsay’s soft, pure, and airy vocals.
Barrie is an emerging dream pop band, and they are set to drop their debut album, Happy To Be Here on May 3rd, via Winspear. A Brooklyn five-piece, they are made up of Barrie Lindsay, Dominic Apa, Spurge Carter, Sabine Holler, and Noah Prebish, all coming from different backgrounds around the world. With this strong debut, the band proves that differences can meld well and create a cohesive sound while emulating true inclusion and acceptance. Barrie Lindsay says,
“The scaffolding of this album is moving to New York and finding these people that make up the band. We’re very different, but we cover each other’s gaps personally and creatively, and are eager to learn from each other.”
Lindsay can write songs, play guitar, piano, synth, and bass but she truly commands the vocals on the album. She sings with soft whispers giving the impression of a dreamy vulnerability. With all of her talent, this could be her project alone, but listening carefully, I hear a multitude of influences making it a full band record. Happy To Be Here was co-produced by Barrie and Jake Aron who worked with the recent breakout act, Snail Mail and also Solange and Grizzly Bear.
The first song on the album, “Darjeeling”, begins with attention-getting rapid claps, then settles softly into ambient beats, lush vocals, and sway-worthy melodies. Interesting changes in tempo keeps the listener connected and curious. “Darjeeling” cleverly sets the mood of the album with a soothing groove and the other songs follow without being controversial, jarring, love lost, political, or weepy. While the lyrics are astutely observant, they are light and nestled in a swirling wall of sound hinting a welcome throwback to the 80’s. The album is packed with melodic sweetness and is a nice diversion from all that may darken your thinking.
“Clovers” is a song which has caught the attention of alternative radio stations and shared streaming playlists. It is a hit song due to its catchy chorus and hearty piano tempo. Barrie’s song “Saturated” is a bit sparser, but it connects with its whisper like confessions of infatuation and crush. The song is relatable and alive with its wonky synth sounds and breathy vocals, and the guitars don’t arrive until later. “Teenager” surprises with interspersed static and reverb, weaving in more sonic texture, edginess, and experimentation while still maintaining their signature structure. “Geology” is infectious and pleasing from start to finish. The jazzy guitar ditties define the song throughout, but especially before and after the sparkly chorus. The album ends with the song “Hutch” and the promising possibility to be, “better, I can do better than before…love, I can keep loving some more”. Could it be hinting this album is only the beginning of many more to come?
Throughout Happy To Be Here, there is a consistency with the songs that is impressive for a young band. I struggle to make any comparisons, recognizing the charming unique style they present. The power of most music can help bubble up emotions, calm uneasy nerves, ignite impactful memories, or create joy. It doesn’t take a catastrophic event to recognize the gift Barrie holds in creating warm and inviting pop songs. Their sound is shiny, luminous, and can instantly transport me to my youth on a sunny summer day. Barrie’s new debut helped me escape from my traumatic flood event with a new perspective that joy can present itself when we least expect it. Perhaps, Happy To Be Here is the welcome diversion we all need in these uncertain times.
-originally posted on SoundBlab on April 29, 2019