Album review: Phat Bollard – Brew for the Barrowman

For those not in the know Phat Bollard are a Cornish folk band that spend their days busking on the streets, going from city to city. They’re more at home playing on the streets than being in a studio or playing actual gigs.

The result of a successful crowd funding campaign Brew for the Barrowman is Phat Bollard’s fifth album and contains what their growing fanbase has come to expect, witty catchy songs featuring observations about life with the occasional diatribe about politics. The band were toiling away doing their thing in relative obscurity until 2015 when their song Millionaires, a scathing and witty commentary on the public’s approach to the homeless and big business, became an unexpected viral hit.

What makes Phat Bollard so good is there’s an innate sense that they really enjoy what they’re doing. This is evident in the numerous videos you can find of them filmed by people who stumbled upon the band playing in the streets somewhere. The idea of a modern day band of wandering minstrels going from town to town playing for the people is so anachronistic it’s undeniably endearing.

The bands totally stripped down approach, generally featuring two guitars, mandolin, washtub bass and percussion (and the occasional incorporation of expletives) shares its roots with the bards of old as much as it does with the raucous rebellious nature of punk rock. Negative Politics skewers the farce of political systems whilst Leave Behind is a philosophical ode to the transitory and fleeting nature of life. There’s a sublime simplicity to the lyrical epiphet “Just don’t be a cunt mate” on Loving Your Neighbour. The Ones Who Killed The World meanwhile sums up the apathy and callousness of the modern world.

One of the bands hallmarks is vocals being shared amongst the band members each with their recognisable accent and the mixture of accents really adds to their appeal. One of the songs featured here, Small Plot Changes, featured in a video the band streamed on their Facebook page whilst they were stuck in a lift somewhere, and this really summed up what the band is all about, having a good time. You’ll find yourself singing along before you know it.

Phat Bollard are one of the best bands you’ve probably never heard of.

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