Album Review: Bambara – Stray

Bambara, what a band! Where do I even start with them? They are truly one of the most remarkable bands around right now, and their new record Stray firmly reinforces my love for them. Is it their best work to date? Of course. Let’s get into why.

Last year I was lucky enough to see Bambara; it was one of my favourite shows of the year. I’d not been to such an emotionally charged show like that in a while, and they just gave the crowd everything and more. Bambara remind me of The Birthday Party mixed with something from another planet. Frontman, Reid is someone who commands the stage like a bird stalking its prey in the sky, slowly swooping down to take them far away and have its way with it. That’s how Reid, Blaze and William are on stage. How do they do it on record? Well, just as easily. Stray picks up where 2018’s Shadows On Everything left off. You cannot help but feel that Stray was made to absolutely annihilate the listener’s ears. Just take the opener, ‘Miracle’. It feels like a cathartic release, and you can’t do anything but let it completely consume you.

I adore every single song on this record, but I love the dark madness within ‘Heat Lightning’. It reminds me of something akin to Edgar Allan Poe – it has this mystery and darkness in it that sucks you in, and the way Bambara grip you is out of this world. I’ve been listening to this record over and over during the weekend, and with every listen I keep toying with which songs are my favourite, but it’s impossible. ‘Sing Me To The Street’ is exceptional. It is truly a masterpiece, but the whole record is. We all know how stunning ‘Serafina’ is and how remarkable ‘Stay Cruel’ is – so how on earth can I or anyone pick a favourite? I won’t, but what I do know is that their tour in May and August will be something to really get lost in. They’re the kind of band you use all your work holiday allowance on just so you can see every single show. I love the darkness in this record, and I can safely say that Reid’s songwriting on this record is truly his best work. I love this snarl Reid possess in his tone at times, it reminds me so much of Nick Cave and I just adore it so much.

The record feels like a walk through a foggy and desolate graveyard. It is chilling, it is eerie, and it is a masterpiece. Every single song deserves its place, and every single song needs to be witnessed live. They are exceptional live and what they’ve done on Stray is something that’s not been done in a hell of a long time. I love how cryptic and menacing the songs are and how Blaze and William have massively pushed themselves too on this record. You can hear the growth in Reid’s songwriting, and how his vocals have become stronger. Every song feels like a ghost story, made to terrify the listener in ways that a horror film couldn’t touch. The songs will mess with your head, and you will not be able to control the love you have for the record.

‘Death Croons’ reminds me of something you’d think William S. Burroughs would have written. It’s got the beatnik feel to it, and Reid’s storytelling is something to really treasure and the way it flows over Blaze and William’s musical creations is nothing short of divine. There are gorgeous Gothic influences on this record, and the way it is executed is just a joy to listen to. What Bambara have done on this record is yet again show us why they are one of the most exciting bands around. You can truly hear the dedication that’s gone into this record, and as cliched as it sounds it really is their best work to date.

Stray touches on death a lot – a subject which many shy away from, but Bambara do it in a way that makes you find comfort in any uncertainty you may have.

Catch Bambara on tour at the following venues:

4/5/20 – Sneaky Pete’s – Edinburgh, UK
5/5/20 – Sneaky Pete’s – Edinburgh, UK
5/6/20 – Stereo – Glasgow, UK
5/7/20 – The Cluny – Newcastle, UK
5/8/20 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
5/9/20 – The Sound House – Dublin, UK
5/11/20 – Yes (Pink Room) – Manchester, UK
5/12/20 – The Exchange – Bristol, UK
5/13/20 – Clwb Ifor Bach – Cardiff, UK
5/15/20 – The Bullingdon – Oxford, UK
5/16/20 – Bodega Social Club – Nottingham, UK
5/18/20 – Portland Arms – Cambridge, UK
5/19/20 – Hare and Hounds – Birmingham, UK
5/20/20 – The Dome – London, UK

Review by Olivia Cellamare:

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