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Bar Italia make a step to full scale cult heroes status on Tracey Denim

"Tracey Denim"

Release date: 19 May 2023
Bar Italia - Tracey Denim cover
16 May 2023, 09:00 Written by Joe Creely

Bar Italia have proved they're bigger than the circumstances from which they emerged.

Emerging amid the lockdown in the wild flurry of activity that tumbled from Dean Blunt’s World Music label and being a supergroup comprised of a trio of well-loved figures in the London underground (NINA & Double Virgo) didn’t exactly suggest that Bar Italia were going to be sticking around for long. But their brief but superb debut birthed a second even better record which made way to tours, and here we are, their third record and first as Matador signees. They tweak and tighten their style, delivering their first great long-form record, and a statement of intent.

The interesting tension at their core remains the same. On the one hand, their instrumentation still feels like the end point of an alternate fork in the road, whereby late 80s D.I.Y. indie stripped back even more rather than inflating into Britpop, barely the husks of songs remaining. But rubbing against this is that they know how to write a hook, which shows across the record. "Missus Morality" is pure brilliant pop just warped enough to keep their trademark claustrophobia. The vocal interplay on recent single "Nurse!" is a gorgeous counterpoint to its increasingly distorted sonics.

"Punkt" acts as a microcosm of all the record's best qualities. Its rolling guitar patterns give it an incessant, quiet intensity that builds to something genuinely desperate without being overblown. It’s this restraint that is the key to the record's quality. It gives the record a closeness, a sense that it’s happening in the room with you that few records, certainly on major indie labels, can match. It works perfectly for the world the record builds, one of flat-share heartbreak, house party embarrassment and flailing friendships.

Tracey Denim manages that difficult task, of creating an album that feels like a self-contained world without losing sight of songs that really work in and of themselves. It's a natural development from the trio and one that points to an exciting future.

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