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BARRA HEAD – We Are Your Numbers (Errol)

Posted: September 4th, 2005, by Chris S

This has been a tricky review to write. I like Denmark’s Barra Head a lot, I played some shows with them a few years back and they were great. But there is this weird thing with European bands that tackle this (largely) American genre of music. That genre being part hardcore, part indie rock, part (whisper it) emo etc etc. The best example of a band doing this stuff well is The Lapse (or The Breaks or Sparrow or whatever they are called now).
The last Lapse album In Truth Loved is a masterpiece. A solid gold masterpiece. The reason is that it moves the goalposts. To hear Chris Leo sing some of the words on that record was a revelation to me. To actually sing “I know I’m dirty but baby I’m still dandy and I know I can be a bit too dandy but baby I’m still dirty” was revolutionary at the time. Because all of us – male/female, straight/gay/bi – know what it’s like to walk down the street and eye up someone we fancy. ALL of us make crass comments. Hell, I bet Ian MacKaye has rude thoughts sometimes. I saw him kiss a girl once. It’s true.
Barra Head sound mightily like The Lapse. And their songs are cracking. This album also sounds exquisite. The guitar playing is wonderful throughout. But, like I said, the goalposts have moved. And to get back onto the European thing again, it seems to be a trademark of bands from mainland Europe to abide by some rules that really were never in place. There is a sterility to this music that should be fought and not embraced. From the packaging to the lyrics to the presentation, Barra Head seem to seek to remove the kinks and the eccentricities from what they do and it leaves it cold, good though it is. You’re just dying for a wah wah freakout in the middle or for the lyrics to be silly for a moment but the way it sticks to defined boundaries and is so reserved just feels like a step backward and ultimately you want to shake them so their music represents everything about their lives it can do – not just what they think is acceptable to be represented in the genre they exist in. Because when they do they’ll be out of the shadows of their peers and become the amazing band they’re only threatening at being here.

Chris S

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.


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