Album Review: Holomew by BART (Republished from CanCulture – April 20, 2016)

Toronto progressive psych-pop band BART released their debut album Holomew on April 8, under Idée Fixe Records.

Hey, did you know if you put the band name in front of the album name, you get Bartholomew? Whoa, mind blown!

The progressive sound the band displays in this nine-track album draws influences from a range of genres, from classic rock to psychedelic pop, to some fusion of synth-rock, indie and ambience. You can’t really define it as any one genre. The result is a musical mindtrip, only without the LSD.

We asked BART about the concept for Holomew.

“Conceptually, there isn’t anything consistent to grasp on to, at least for us,” they said. “But the idea was to allow anyone who actually listened to the lyrics to put most of the ‘story’ of each song together for themselves.”

The band explained that when writing the lyrics, each line influenced next and vice versa, creating “little narratives that happen from time to time.”

Holomew opens with “On/Off,” an upbeat track featuring a running bass riff, dreamy falsetto singing, and a saxophone riff in the bridge. Then, the tempo slows down in the latter half of the song. The singer sings “I hope you know I’ve done a lot of drugs.” Fitting, really, the music grows calmer and slower, just like when you take acid. Musical acid. According to BART, this song is about “the fear of undertaking something alone.”

The jazz-y saxophone riff comes back again in the bridge of the fourth track “Times of Gold.” It’s a mellow, meditative track featuring the dreamy vocals (something that is stylistically consistent throughout the album), a slow drum beat, and piano chords. It ends with the words “times of gold” repeated four times, before fading out.

“The song is about our own personal nostalgia and accepting that those feelings might not be coming back in any other way than inside our head,” the band said of the track.

Memories, really. We cannot turn back time, so every minute is gold, and we should cherish every moment.

The sixth track of the song is called “Hurricane Rita.” It features no vocals, but a showcase of the band’s mastery of their instruments. The track opens with what sounds like the blowing of the wind, which mimics a hurricane. With no singing, the guitar plays the melody here. The track is upbeat, with the middle section of the song featuring a drum beat sounding like a horse’s gallop. Sound-wise, it all fits with the whole ‘hurricane’ theme, what with the chaotic clashing of sounds and intertwining riffs. But just as storms would suddenly die down (because nature is that way), there is a sudden change of tempo and sounds. Instead of the guitar and drums going wild, the second section of “Hurricane Rita” is slow and calm, beginning with a drone and ending on a drone.

Holomew ends with “Why,” another one of the calmer tracks on the album. The dreamy vocals are back, with a constant guitar riff and a slow drum beat that sounds a little like the song “Surrender” by Billy Talent.

“‘Why’ is about watching someone close to you becoming a different person that you don’t necessarily want to be close with,” they said.

BART may very well be treading into new territories with their experimental and progressive style of music. Holomew is a promising debut album for the Toronto band, featuring a sound that is both provocative and psychedelic. Like a lot of experimental artists, we can’t really put a specific genre/label on these guys. They’re like a little bit of everything, really. One of the standout elements in this album, I think, is the singing.

Dreamy, falsetto, soothing. You almost feel a little relaxed, despite the roaring instruments accompanying the vocals. If music is a drug, then this album is very potent with tripping minds.

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