Bar Italia occupies a shifting, shadowy ground between sunny 1960s euro-pop and post-punk, leaning one way or another depending on who is singing. “Nurse!”, for instance, divides itself equally among three songwriters, beginning in Nina Cristante’s breezy, carefree French movie gauze, dipping briefly into Sam Fenton’s indie buzz and dissonance and returning for Jezmi Tarik Fehmi’s spike-y staccato verse. Yet while each member has a distinctive timbre and personality, the song circles nonchalantly around a common theme: what it’s like to watch youth slipping away. Fenton wraps his hoarse variety of longing around a chorus that repeats, “The moss covered your eyes and you moved like crazy to your favorite song/you said I’m coming alive, haven’t felt this way since you were 21.” If it’s been a long time since you passed 25, you might have forgotten how bittersweet it is to pass between late adolescence to early adulthood, but here’s a reminder.
These songs by drift on moody clouds of cigarette smoke, puffed away from you out of courtesy but blowing back nonetheless in a bitter haze. There are spikes in the softness of “Missus Morality.” The lyrics crooned effortlessly by Nina Cristante hide sharp asides about personal awkwardness and settling for less, and the easy groove is rocked by hard, militant drumming. “yes i have eaten so many lemons, yes I am so bitter” rides a coiled and sinuous bassline, slipping a hard buzz of dissonance into its daydreaming bop. These are songs where nothing seems to matter but everything hurts. They are cool and poised and vulnerable all at once. | j kelly