Album Review: ‘The Twits’ by bar italia

One of our writer's looks at Bar Italia's new album

Luke Hitchcock
6th December 2023
ImageCredit: Instagram@baritaliaa
Back with a second studio album release in 6 months, there has been no slowing down for London-based trio bar italia who deliver The Twits, a mysteriously melodic album which feels like it’s straight out of a 90s time capsule. On the heels of jumping from Dean Blunt’s World Music label to the indie powerhouse Matador, bar italia dive straight back in with all the fervour they captivated on Tracey Denim, their first release for the label earlier this year. 

Leaving no time to breath the opening track ‘my little tony’ abruptly drops you in what feels half-way through. With the energy of teenagers during garage band practice, the trio pair grungy percussion and shoegazy guitars transporting you straight into their world of slaker rock. The first half of the album is full of classic up-tempo post punk style songs, one of the highlights being ‘worlds greatest emoter’, a short and punchy tune with a simple drum beat and catchy guitar riff, its lack of overcomplication makes it a memorable stand out moment on the record. It is clear to see influence from 90s titan Sonic Youth on songs like ‘clam down with me’ and ‘twist’ not just in the way the trio share vocal duties, creating much-needed richly textured diversity, but in the structure of the songs themselves. While on ‘Shoo’, band member Nina Cristante gives a PJ Harvey-esc experimental performance over wavering electric guitars forcing you to sink into the music. 

Further down the record you would be forgiven for thinking you had found a lost song from my bloody valentine’s 1991 album loveless with ‘hi fiver’ as the band lean fully into shoegaze skilfully utilising distorted vocals and electric guitars bringing a spacey ambiance and hint of menace to the record. However, as the second half of the album progresses it seems to lose some of the momentum it built in the opening half. The unpolished guitars and vocal performances start to wear thin on tracks like ‘glory hunter’ and some of the melodic composition begins to feel tired rather than engaging. Luckily an intriguing song progression on ‘sounds like you had to be there’ and a strong penultimate song, ‘Jelsy’, save the latter half from complete mediocrity.

In all The Twits during its best moments scratches the insatiable itch of 90s alternative rock often missing from modern shoegaze and grunge releases. Even though the band are deeply rooted in that period, even their name reflecting the closing song from Pulp’s 1995 album Different Class, it doesn’t prevent the trio from breathing new life into a three-decade old formula. With this record bar italia have crafted and solidified a distinctively recognisable sound infused with all the good 90s nostalgia you could ask for in turn gaining them a deserved cult following of 300,000 Spotify listeners. With two great leaps forward for the band this year and the power of a new label behind them, bar italia have thrust themselves into being one of the most sonically exciting ones to watch within the modern alternative music scene.

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