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September 6, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Barb S/T

(Yep Rock Records)

Barb is one of the most utterly predictable album releases of the year. That is to say, who took a look at the lineup of this New Zealand super-group and didn’t think this was a great idea? Barb consists of straight-up NZ indie pop royalty: Liam Finn, Eliza-Jane Barnes, Connan Mockasin, Lawrence Arabia and Seamus Ebbs. Thankfully, their debut outing is not a boring, drawn-out jam session of bustling egos, but a charming collection of swoon-worthy tunes. Barb sounds like nothing less than a well-matched group effort, with each musician’s idiosyncrasies shining through.

There are pop hooks a-plenty tucked neatly into this satisfying little gem. From the opening doe-eyed ‘Leo’, right through to the dreamy ‘Looking Through Barb’s Eyes’, Barb is unrelenting in its catchy, knee-weakening choruses. It’s hard to pick a highlight because it’s so diverse and it’s all so damn good.

‘Not a Bird’ starts with a silly, childish chanting verse before descending into a complex, intensely melodic and completely absorbing chorus. Connan’s sweet, child-like coo stands out as being particularly well-suited to this song and adds to the innocence suggested in the title. Lyrically, it veers from being cutely oddball (“I am not a bird at all”) to cutely beautiful (“I will draw you pictures of all the places we will visit when we’re old”).

‘Time to Contemplate’ gives you a break to do just that as it builds tragically with heartbreaking keys and a woeful Finn crooning about lost love. While one could easily get caught up in the melancholy at this point, the weird quirk of ‘Beatman’ will swiftly pull you out of that funk.

Barb could have easily turned into a handful of highly capable musicians competing against each other or an exercise in self-indulgence, however we are given the exact opposite. They’ve taken into account each others’ individual sounds and channelled it into one lush project. They’ve also maintained the excitement and fun of such a collaborative project, making this one a keeper.



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