bar italia are the London based three-piece of Nina Cristante, Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton. They will release their second full length of 2023, ‘The Twits’, on November 3rd, less than six months after their acclaimed Matador debut, Tracey Denim.
‘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 conversationnbetween 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.
Great Area lives in London with previous releases Follow Your Nature (Relaxin Records, 2022) and hypocrite 21 (Xquisite Releases, 2021).