Album #39: Bambara – Stray

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Athens, Georgia, USA
  • Label: Wharf Cat
  • Best Track: Serafina

It’s difficult to talk about Bambara without making comparisons to Nick Cave/Birthday Party – the baritone vocals, the dissonant guitar, the dark and narrative style of lyrics. Despite that, they’re not a derivative band by any stretch, and I prefer to think of them as a soundtrack to some kind of post-punk Western that’s never been put together.

Their fourth album Stray hones this distinctive sound rather than expanding upon it. Like with all their records, it’s not easy to dissect, with a theme of fear and paranoia running through it. Early single ‘Serafina’ – an exhilarating tale of two female arsonists who strike (pardon the pun) up a relationship – remains the standout track of an album not really intended to be analysed track by track.

‘Death Croons’ is superb too, with some haunting female backing vocals and a chilling refrain of “I am not your kind”. Towards the end, ‘Made for Me’ stands out with its murky, echoing repetitions, and ‘Sweat’ is a real cacophony, making closer ‘Machete’ seem something of an anticlimax.

Because I try to get through these reviews quickly, I usually only do them after two or three listens. This is one where more time is really needed to appreciate its storytelling qualities, but I like what I hear of Stray and will give it the time it deserves.

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