Search The Line of Best Fit
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Bar Italia eclipse post-punk’s chasing pack with the mangled glee of The Twits

"The Twits"

Release date: 03 November 2023
Bar italia The Twits cover
31 October 2023, 09:00 Written by Joshua Mills

London three-piece Bar Italia began their career in low key fashion, eschewing the spotlight while releasing two intriguing, quirky records on Dean Blunt’s World Music. Now signed to Matador, they’re on their second release of 2023 and, with The Twits, feel primed for a major push.

Bar Italia can be filed in the general milieu of contemporary post-punk, but the music they make on their latest LP is in another league to that of most of the modern clutch. For starters, there’s absolutely no talk-singing to be heard, with each of the members – Nina Cristante, Sam Fenton and Jezmi Fehmi – taking turns at the mic, trading verses. Instead of the Birthday Party devotees that seem to clog most alternative playlists, there are hints of Th’ Faith Healers, Quickspace, and early Pavement. Most importantly, these songs are actually fun.

Thickening the sound since May’s Tracey Denim has paid dividends for The Twits, an album of great texture and detail. The mournful “Twist” piles layer upon layer as the winding guitars finally give way to a huge, fuzzy midpoint. “Sounds Like You Had To Be There” is the record at its 4AD-ready loveliest, stacking acoustic and electric flourishes over Cristante’s pleading vocal.

It’s a record to be blasted out and overwhelmed by, but Bar Italia don’t always go for overkill. “Shoo” is a sparse and spooky affair, comparatively speaking, with a creeping, Western bassline and tension-raising waves of feedback. The sinister, lo-fi “Que Surprise” simplifies the musicianship to crashing drums and minimalist guitars, allowing all three singers the opportunity to exhibit their personalities. They swap out lines, with Cristante double-tracked and chirping over herself.

The whole record bulges with creativity and invention. These are dramatically inclined compositions, often structured around distinct mini-movements rather than traditional verses and choruses. It reaches a playful zenith on “World’s Greatest Emoter” (named, presumably, for former One Directioner Liam Payne’s description of the actor Will Smith). The track doesn’t sit still for a moment, tearing through ideas and seldom coming back to them. It’s noisy pop as a relay race, each member getting their own chunk then passing the baton to the next contestant to have their fun with it.

Bar Italia’s ambition and scope seems to increase exponentially with each passing release, and to pull off two great leaps forward in a single year is a hugely impressive feat. This is rich, idiosyncratic music that’s too wild and strange to copy.

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