Posted: Jun 17, 2008 12:33 pm
The Barbaras was just released this month on the iconic Memphis label, Goner Records. The five-piece pop militia, who hail from Memphis, play a caustic flavor of bubbly tunes that melt away like arsenic ice cream, and confirm the brilliant duality of abrasive lyrical songwriting with sugary, euphonious music. Their songs contain a contagious attitude of sullied optimism that rings with the bittersweet truth of everyday rigmarole, and pulls back the bubblegum sound with a veracious layer of fuzz. Building nuances dug up from Pet Sounds, running them through a paper shredder, and then sprinkling them with a cocktail of a freshly invented designer drug and a pinch of baby laxative, the Barbaras seemed to have nailed the formula that many of their cronies swung at, but missed. They write the sort of songs that are as delirious and catchy as they are sweet and jaded.
On the A-side, the song "Summertime Road" plays with the hand clap song breaks that got Gary Glitter into every sports arena in the country. They frolic through the song as if they were singing it from a pimped-out conversion van with carpeted walls and a twin mattress in the back. And like the wet dreams of a Summer b-movie, the song leaves behind a metaphorical refulgent slime that is sure to result in some sort of mischievousness, whether by the band themselves or by anyone lucky enough to be listening.
The B-side is equally great. The first song "The Day of the Shrine" builds starting with a primitive drum beat that erupts with the inclusion of a clean strumming guitar and with the "la la la la" back-ups, it almost comes off as a lullaby for the lunatics. The last song "Flow" delves just far enough into Brian Jonestown Massacre territory that it keeps the party on the right track, and no one has to suffer the embarrassment of wearing a crystal around their neck.
BY BRETT CROSS