Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Label: Wharf Cat Records
Non-Airable Tracks: 3, 4, 5
In BAMBARA’s second album off of Wharf Cat Records, the post-punk outfit based out of Brooklyn delivers a visceral, chaotic experience that is dripping with horrific imagery and moral depravity. Stray emanates the feeling of a hot, muggy, Georgia night and lures the listener in with enthralling narrative-based songs that delve into the theme of death. The thematic focus on death is present in almost every track and conveys a morbid, paranoid feeling of the inescapable presence of one’s inevitable doom. Death appears in the track “Death Croons” personified by an alluring woman tempting the narrator. Stray is well-structured and many of the lyrics read as short horror vignettes, describing acts of debauchery, violence, and sex. T
The album has a variety of song structures ranging from the creeping, morbid and atmospheric “Sing Me to the Street”, to the heart-pounding, fiery lead single “Serafina”. The aforementioned telling the story of a crazed pyromaniac that is institutionalized for her feverish desire to burn down everything she sees. Lead singer Reid Bateh delivers the lyrics in a haunting baritone that oozes with a devilish charm, almost as if Bateh himself is enjoying these acts of destruction. Indulgent in depravity, the album’s perspective invites the reader to share in the anarchist satisfaction. BAMBARA’s unique combination of post-punk and southern-rock, coupled with their signature gothic tone provides a one of a kind experience for the listener. Twangy guitars are often woven between miasmatic synths and punchy basslines.
The track “Heat Lightning” uses thundering snare drums, and crunchy rhythmic bass to paint the image of a sweat-drenched escape along a lonesome highway. BAMBARA is at its best when they embrace this cacophonous, fervent energy. I found that their more mellow songs tended to drudge along and weren’t helped by Bateh’s monotone and drunken delivery. However, these moments are far and few between, as BAMBARA more than makes up for this with the tone and atmosphere. Overall, BAMBARA’s Stray is a well-paced, thematic album that exudes a playfully devilish aura, soaked in blood and dusted with soot. This fiery album’s unique marriage between post-punk and southern-rock creates a western-gothic experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
Reviewer: Michael Jepson
Review Date: 02/17/2020