Album #59: Habibi – Anywhere But Here

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Brooklyn, New York, USA
  • Label: muddguts
  • Best Track: Hate Everyone but You

When West meets East in indie/alternative music, it tends to work pretty well. Two examples that spring to mind are George Harrison’s work with sitarist Ravi Shankar, and the Indian influence on Britpop band Kula Shaker.

Habibi are an all-female garage rock group with members of Iranian descent, bringing a Middle Eastern vibe into a tried and tested New York sound, steeped in nostalgia.

On Anywhere But Here, the band’s second album, the result is sometimes upbeat and catchy, sometimes brooding and sinister. Opening track ‘Angel Eyes’ is more the latter – edgy and atmospheric, setting the tone of the next few tracks.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the sound being unique, it begins to get a little samey and one-paced as the album goes on, with a heavy reliant on the same surf-pop drumming pattern. Things are shaken up on eighth track ‘In The City’ though, which has a more uptempo, post-punk feel.

The snotty ‘Misunderstood’ runs in the same vein, as does the funny and infectious ‘Hate Everyone but You’. The clearest Iranian influence is heard on psychedelia-tinged closer ‘Come My Habibi’, complete with Arabic chanting.

That track aside, the girls keep it fairly simple for the main part of the album. When you’ve honed a distinctive sound like they have, perhaps that’s not a bad recipe.

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