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The Unlikely Coupling Of Barrie

‘Happy to Be Here’ Serves Fucked-Up, Perfect Pop

On May 2, 2019

Chill, dreamy pop band Barrie began as a blind date. Singer and musician Barrie Lindsay was living in Boston when Joe Van Moyland reached out: He’d heard her music online and wanted to set her up in a band. He knew two guys at The Lot, a Brooklyn-based radio station run out of a reused shipping container, who he thought would be a great fit for her sound.

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So, while Lindsay was still in Boston, she gained her first two members: Noah Prebish (on synth and guitars) and Spurgeon Carter (backing vocals and production). From there, drummer Dominic Apa was added to the roster, a friend of both Van Moyland and Prebish’s from separate previous projects.

But the matchmaking didn’t end there — its next logical leap in the hunt for a bassist was Tinder. Lindsay tells me she wanted a woman in the role, both to sing the high harmonies and simply to have another woman in the group. They got 20 or 30 matches on the app, but as soon as she saw Sabine Holler, Lindsay went: “Oh, fuck yeah, this is it.”

“I basically never met them and sight unseen agreed to join this band,” Lindsay says. “It was this weird kind of arranged-marriage slash set-up-friendship thing.”

While it sounds awkward, the band “vibed pretty quickly,” and Lindsay knows that, though they’re all still getting to know each other, she “can already tell we have similar taste and ambition and also just that everyone in the band is a really lovely person, with good values.”

For a band brought together to Brooklyn with little certainty of their future, their debut album is sweetly titled, Happy to Be Here. It comes out via Winspear on May 3.

The album is sketched around the demos that Van Moyland heard online, but with a full band’s backing, the tunes grew fleshed out. Lindsay says Apa’s live drumming and Carter and Prebish’s part in production were both instrumental — and that’s to say nothing of Holler, who, trapped in Germany with a pending visa, recorded her parts while she waited.

“Clovers” might represent the album best: a spectacle of wavy vocals and synth, the trippy chorus “Clovers in my eyes / The way the light falls on the bus on the way home” captures a specific intimacy, joy, and early evening warmth in line with the “Fleetwood Mac tropicalia” genre Apa’s given them.

While Lindsay does say the album may emulate a warm summer night, she’s reluctant to define it as such. That’s not surprising: that sounds a little too perfect for a band that’s said in interviews that they aim to create “a well-crafted pop song that’s a little bit fucked up.” According to Lindsay, “a little bit fucked up” means that one of the song’s elements — whether the lyrics, melody/harmony, production or progressions — has something “off” about it. It could be a guitar drone or a strange synth, but it’s that edge that makes your ears perk up.

“For the large part, we want to make music that’s accessible and really does feel familiar and there’s a lot to hold on to, but what makes it interesting and what makes it feel like a specific human has made it is those specific tags, and that’s what makes it interesting for us, too,” Lindsay says. “The bands that I look to that have really made an impact in the mainstream but also stood the test of time are bands that do make kind of fairly traditional pop music, but have something interesting with the production, keep on changing slightly. And that’s what we aspire to.”

The ’80s-inflected, poppy tracks conjure warmth and grit in equal measure, whether it’s the intentionally off-beat tags Lindsay mentioned or the oft-grimy lyrics that detail her Brooklyn-transplant experience (she moved in just under a year ago).

“The city definitely played a large part [in the album], partly because the city itself is such an intense place and the people you meet loom so large, but also largely because of the transition [from Boston] itself,” Lindsay says. She adds sincerely: “We finished it late fall, but for me, it takes years to really get to the heart of an album or something that I’ve made — I’m sure in years I will laugh at these answers.”

Profile Picture of Caitlin Wolper
Caitlin Wolper

Caitlin Wolper is a writer whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Vulture, Slate, MTV News, Teen Vogue, and more. Her first poetry chapbook, Ordering Coffee in Tel Aviv, was published in October by Finishing Line Press. She shares her music and poetry thoughts (with a bevy of exclamation points, and mostly lowercase) at @CaitlinWolper.

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