Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Halo’s bruised rock is an evocative leap forward for Bakar


Release date: 01 September 2023
Bakar Halo cover
22 September 2023, 09:00 Written by Joshua Mills

To date, the career of Abubakar Baker Shariff-Farr has progressed from Soundcloud collage artist to US TV, Coachella, and Elton John shoutouts.

As the spotlight grows on the London singer, though, so too does his insistence on producing idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable music.

Halo comes just 18 months after debut LP Nobody’s Home, but Bakar’s control and focus as an artist has developed exponentially. The first record was full of inspiration but on the baggy side. Halo is a much more concentrated effort with a keen ear for structure, energy waxing and waning in all the right places. He illustrates his versatility early on, tearing through the moddish lead single “Alive!”, then quickly dipping into “Selling Biscuits”, a lovely melancholic nugget of ramshackle guitars and resigned vocals.

Bakar’s voice is the real selling point here, wisely placed higher in the mix than on previous releases. “Facts Situations” comes closest to his rap-adjacent delivery of old. Above R&B guitar stabs he’s almost biblical, singing of a friend’s poor choices “I don’t want you to regret, I just want you to repent”. He bounces around the swingtime opener “One In One Out”, playfully showing off his range and technical ability.

The album peaks when Bakar finds himself out on a limb. The swooning “Hate The Sun” is the most captivating track on offer; it’s almost entirely percussion-free, just a simple, looping riff and a mounting, elemental wall of backing vocals. “Sticks and stones is all we have / words don’t work no more, we’re tapped,” he croons. This proves prophetic, the tune ending with a spluttered cry of “wanna be someone that’s grateful for you / wanna be more faithful for you,” Bakar’s voice cracks, giving everything it has left.

Halo ends on the sweet note of the longingly romantic “Sofa”, which stacks the harmonies higher still. The acapella coda is the record’s warmest moment and its most revealing, Bakar backed only by himself, detailing his efforts to “open my arms for the world to see / to open my heart’s so hard for me”.

These moments where he bets on himself as a force are the most impressive of all. The powerful, FIFA-ready indie rock is good and often great, but these spare, vulnerable songs are the record’s most powerful. Bakar is becoming one of the most distinct personalities in UK pop, and the more of him he shows us, the better he becomes.

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