Shadow On Everything

Liars cohorts release their third, pulverising album

Bambara hail from Athens, Georgia, famously home to REM and The B-52’s, but what they do is far noisier, angrier, scarier. They sound like a band always on the lookout for something bigger, and in 2011 the three of them – twins Reid and Blaze Bateh and schoolmate William Brookshire – moved to Brooklyn. Bambara’s debut Dreamviolence arrived in 2013, followed by Swarm in 2016, and now we have Shadow On Everything.

The Bateh brothers recently toured with Liars, bringing a pulverising, controlled rhythmic chaos to Angus Andrew’s new solo endeavours around Europe. Whether any of Andrew’s antipodean heritage rubbed off on Bambara is doubtful, though there is a hint of his Australian musical antecedents within the songs here, namely the Birthday Party and early Bad Seeds – there’s something about Reid’s assured delivery and lyrical dexterity that’s reminiscent of Nick Cave.

‘Dark Circles’ starts with the tenebrous menace of ‘Tupelo’, before turning darker still, like a Leonard Cohen song playing through the apocalypse. ‘Doe-Eyed Girl’ is a raggedy and violent psychobilly number that never lets up in its attack. ‘José Tries To Leave’ is all tremolo harmonics and deranged buzzsaw guitars. ‘Monument’ is monolithic, like a large building falling on you, while ‘The Door Between Her Teeth’ becomes more chilling and intense with each passing second. ‘Sun Bleached Skulls’ meanwhile stomps along with a surprising lightness given the ominous title.

Some relief arrives in the more dreamlike soundscape of ‘Night’s Changing’, and there’s a similar instrumental interlude later on in the album called ‘Human Hair’, though as the name implies it’s more sinister, with a strangulated distant cry at the end that should give you the spooks. In that sense, there appears to be a loose narrative running through Shadow On Everything, and you’d be right in assuming it’s not an altogether pleasant one. As final track ‘Back Home’ fades away, it all feels like you’ve just been living a Lynchian nightmare. This is a powerful, accomplished album, and not for the faint-hearted.

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