21 February 2020 | Blog

February 19 – February 25

Brooklyn’s BAMBARA have successfully refined their sound and proven themselves to be one of the most interesting names in Post-Punk with their 4th studio album Stray. Released on the 14th February through Wharf Cat Records, the record is a despondent exercise in Western tinged Gothic Post-Punk. Its cathartic, narrative driven vocals describe sordid story-lines and are backed by manic percussion and reverb ladened guitar; BAMBARA’s new album is as exhilarating and fun as it is morbid and dark.

The 3 piece have gradually evolved over their decade of activity, from a gloomy Noise Rock band, to the impressively consistent Gothic Post-Punk sounds we’ve heard on their two most recent releases. Stray works as an anthological piece of art; presenting a number of short stories that are interconnected through the themes they display, namely death and rebirth.

Opening with the downtrodden Miracle, lead vocalist Reid Bateh describes a young girl once oppressed by the world around her outgrowing her trauma. In the opening verse we see Bateh’s vividly descriptive lyricism in full effect: ‘The name Miracle has followed her around her whole life, born to sterilized parents who vanished one night. Got a tattoo, says “Meanness” inside her lower lip, she pulls it down in the mirror so she can read it. Framed by her blonde wig in the bright white glow, yeah, spit crawls down her wrist and she lets her lip go’, it’s frankly impossible not to visualise.

The band immediately brings the tempo and insanity up on the following 3 tracks, which coincidentally, were also the 3 singles leading up to Stray’s release: Heat Lightning, Sing Me To The Street and Serafina. We see some of the band’s strongest moments in their discography on these tracks: the protagonist from Heat Lightning’s (aptly named Death) disdain for weathermen being one, when he claims: “Weathermen are worse than those palm reading freaks, they can’t explain every little thing, I don’t care what they say about the rain, it’s not stopping in a day, ain’t no way, it’s not gonna end ’til every coffin’s swimming.”

Sing Me To The Street tells the story of a man enveloped by his own past and the demons he faces because of this. On an album as dark as Stray, Sing Me To The Street the song serves as one of the most downhearted points, as the protagonist of this story interacts with a man he despises: ‘He says, “You know Cole was murdered just about one year back, well, Claire had their baby, tonight, she drowned it in the bath; saying, Death will find us all.” The lyrics and themes presented on this album are not dissimilar from Nick Cave’s punk/heavier projects: Grinderman and The Birthday Party, following a similar formula of Gothic styled Punk music with incredibly dark lyrical content.

The first single released, Serafina opens with an explosive riff that carries the same energy throughout the track, spinning the tale of a young couple who’s passion burns only as hard as the fire and destruction they create in their wake. The lyrics evocative nature are at their strongest on tracks like Serafina. Describing the couple rubbing soot on each other’s skin until it turns grey, posing like dying lovers in Pompeii and expressing a desire to buy an old house in a big town, start a life, only to burn it all to the ground stands as some of the most thought inducing lyricism to come out this year.

BAMBARA’s Stray is poignant, angry, and evocative but most importantly; it’s unique, powerful and excellent: the band’s strongest release to date. Stray has cemented the 3 piece as a force to be reckoned with and an act to keenly keep your eye out for.