Australian duo Barley Passable‘s new EP ‘Hindsight’ is a crystal clear bubbling stream – cool electronic riffs gurgle and flow with surprising twists and turns with vocal melodies skimming across the surface weightlessly.
And importantly, it is an intelligent and diverse album that is filled with a sense of disembodiment and melancholy.
Of the EP’s themes, the band says:
Hindsight is all too human. Often painfully, hindsight pulls the past into the now and helps one to see that looking back on even the most negative of situations can push growth and momentum. This EP is our way of returning to various scenes over the last few years, from the first time we met, and speaking to these situations, as they still run on repeat in our minds. It is a constant reminder telling us to remember exactly who we are, to trust our heads and to be passionate and happy. Most importantly we hope it does the same for all who listen.
We’ve already reviewed opening track ‘Turn Around’ – a veritable slice of summer wrapped in a Pheonix-like cloak of funky bubbling guitars and romanticism:
‘Silver (Unseen)’ is grounded in an electronic percussive beat and glitchy instrumentation – altogether a darker sound but still melodic and compelling. Changes in pace ensure it is an edgier proposition with an air of melancholy and a Kraftwerken tonal ambivalence. The band’s gorgeous guitar tones resurface with a funky edge.
Of the song, the band says:
Keeping with the theme of our first EP ‘Hindsight’, ‘Silver’ is written in the context of us looking back on feeling self love and confidence, both things we wish came around more often and stay longer in our lives. With us both fresh out of school and in the books studying at the time; writing, releasing and playing music helped us escape and feel unbreakable. It was like when we were away from our studies we were finally able to shine like silver and do what we were meant to do. We wanted to capture and tell the world of this feeling of invincibility and coolness that can go unseen when things just feel right. When we feel ‘Silver’, we stay young and people sure know it.
The sudden end sees third track ‘Step Inside’ launch – a far quicker pace and a funky soul edge. Vocals remain melodic and distanced and the guitars cut through with a crystal clear clarity.
Penultimate track, ‘Forget’, incorporates the most tactile and tangible sound effects that billow through your ears like a fresh breeze: layered and subtle. A spoken interlude manages to be haunting as the themes of loneliness and isolation are dealt with.
Final track ‘For Now’ is gorgeous – bombastic turns and melodic sweetness intermingle – there is a Pixian quiet/loud ethic.
Barley Passable never settle down – and never let the listener settle down – there are unexpected twists and turns and a frenetic pace that dispels any complacency.
‘Hindsight’ is ultimately an intriguing journey – indelible instrumentation mixing electronic mastery with an acoustic brilliance and adding intelligent and insightful lyrics and sweet, melancholic melodies. There is an intriguing mix of sixties retro styling with a modernist pop approach that creates something quite unique. This is a band that is carving out its own space.
‘Hindsight is out on 3 March 2021 and you can order the EP here.
Barley Passable are duo of Kai Ollmann (guitars, vocals) and Davy Brown (keyboards, vocals).
Feature Photograph: Kira Celine