From Five to One

The dream-pop band Barrie loses some members but not its smooth sounds.

“Just wanna move to Virginia, get a dog and a house with a human name,” comes from the second track “Frankie”—off of Barrie’s new release, Barbara. Formerly a five-member group, singer-songwriter Barrie Lindsay now continues the project as a solo effort following the breakup which occurred a mere month after their debut, Happy to Be Here (2019). But not to worry, the sound is just as good as before. 

For those unfamiliar with the sub-genre dream-pop comes under the Indie/Ambient/Alternative-Rock categories, coming into prominence in the 1980s with artists like the Cocteau Twins and A. R. Kane. Ethereal, heavy on reverb, echoey it is a softer psychedelic sound that is meant to be gentle on the ears. “I’ve always craved big, layered sound,” Lindsay says, yet she also has a tender touch when it comes to making noise—to turning up the quiet. From the first track to the last, Barabara glides along vocals supported by instruments ranging from harps to trumpet to mandolin. 

Barbara isn’t specifically an album about grief or love,” Lindsay says—though her father was with lung cancer. She had also just met her partner, musician Gabby Smith. With its mellow acoustics and its agitated melodies that are muffled and hazy, the album is an interesting intersection of different emotions. Tracks like “Jenny” and “Frankie” describe change and movement. Both use the words “devotion” and “motion”—which would normally be considered poor writing—but these two words are connectors, a bridge between the songs. “Jenny, I don’t know where to love from,” highlights that idea of moving away from an old self, into a new self, a self that holds true to someone and is ready to take the first step into love.

Artists are always influenced by their surroundings. Lindsay is no different: “I don’t know what this album would sound like if I hadn’t met Gabby.” Well, it sounds like someone wandering in familiar territory, but discovering something new and exciting. Soft surprises appear in the music, reminders of previous music projects blend seamlessly with new ideas of expression. Even if Barrie is now a one (wo)man band, it continues to engage with emotions through flowing, hypnotic rhythms and heartfelt candor. Barbara is a new chapter for Barrie Lindsay and a new opportunity for us listeners to sit back, float off, and dream away.

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