About this item
bar italia are the London based three-piece of Nina Cristante, Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton.
‘The Twits’ was recorded by the trio over eight weeks from February 2023 in a makeshift home studio in Mallorca, and was mixed by Marta Salogni. It finds bar italia’s economical yet evocative songcraft taking raucous, mystic, unkempt, occasionally sinister, and wholly committed turns. Songs like “my little tony”, with its in-the-red riff and excitable hooks, the cathartic four-on-the-floor of ‘world’s greatest emoter’ and the festival tent psychedelia of “Hi-fiver” need little in the way of exposition – these are exhilarating rock songs, if wayward and strange.
Other moments see the band’s increasingly signature, three-act mini-dramas moving into previously uncharted territory. Cristante, Fehmi and Fenton can each manifest a different melody, mood, and cadence – at times overlapping and linear, at others unexpectedly divergent – often within the space of thirty seconds, a tag team rooted in shared language and kinship. “Jelsy”, for instance, plays out like a conversation between friends over wistful, buzzing country blues, the alternating voices at points comforting, wry and hopelessly yearning. The sinuous, slow-burning waltz of “twist” stands out in its bare lyricism and seems to invite each band member’s individual take on a confessional.
While Tracey Denim was notable for its compact 2-3 minute compositions, horizontal and open-ended tracks like “Shoo” ebb and flow, moving from reptilian dive-bar soloing to a palpitating two-note piano coda. ‘glory-hunter’ takes playful twists and turns before ending up somewhere entirely different from where it started. “Real house wibes (desperate house vibes)” and “que surprise” imply sleepless, noirish misadventure, while at the other end of the light spectrum, “sounds like you had to be there” features some of the band’s most sweetly optimistic musical gestures yet. Closer “bibs” is a rare instance where all three can be heard in unison, as a procession of ghostly chords and lacerating feedback bookends the group’s most adventurous and rich set to date.
Released in May, bar italia’s Matador debut ‘Tracey Denim’ followed a string of word-of-mouth releases on Dean Blunt’s World Music label and received widespread attention from publications including The Guardian (“one of the albums of 2023 so far”), The Times (“excellent debut album”), The Observer (‘Artist To Watch’), NME ("a lasting impression that’s all of their own making"), The Quietus (“endlessly evocative”) and Pigeons And Planes (“quickly establishing themselves as one of the most enticing upcoming bands”). Single “Nurse!” was playlisted on BBC 6 Music and received spins from BBC Radio 1, Absolute Radio and NTS. The release was accompanied by a UK tour, culminating in a sold-out headline show at the ICA in London, which The Spectator described as “transfixing… They just make their beautiful, off-kilter music, and let you unfold your own stories on top”.
1. My Little Tony
2. Real House Wibes (desperate House Vibes)
4. Worlds Greatest Emoter
5. Calm Down With Me
7. Que Suprise
8. Hi Fiver
9. Brush W Faith
10. Glory Hunter
11. Sounds Like You Had To Be There