“Leo”‘s the opening track from BARB’s self-titled debut. The drums are pleasingly high in the mix — like when Brian Chippendale got tribal with Björk and Antony. You’d think it’s because the quintet features frantic one-man NZ BTW Liam Finn leaning into the percussion, but it’s actually jazz-trained fellow countryman Seamus Ebbs handling the beats. Really, though, it’s tough pinning down exactly who’s doing what: There’s a lot going on in the songs. Across 13 tracks, Finn and Ebbs are joined by multi-tasking friends Lawrence Arabia, Connan Mockasin, and Finn’s regular live bandmate Eliza Jane Barnes. We’re told it’s a side-project for all the contributors and that it took three years of “fantasizing” and “cross-pollinating” to make it happen. They put it to tape at New Zealand’s Roundhead Studios when they were still referring to themselves as “Havin’ A Baby.” A barb can be sharp, but the group’s psych-pop is more lushly fluid and ambitiously diffuse. “Leo” provides a good launching point.
BARB is out 8/24 via Yep Roc. The cover art features your Aunt Barb.