by Phil Scarisbrick
Sweetness, darkness and light – Julia Bardo’s debut full length is a three dimensional introduction to a captivating artist
We often talk about the ‘journey’ that an artist has been on when discussing their music – be it metaphorically or literally. Sometimes though, both experiences shape their work. That is the case for Italian-born, now Manchester-based, Julia Bardo. Her debut EP, Phase, saw the different worlds collide, with her Italian roots mixed with sounds that shaped the Industrial North, and a sense of American cool thrown in to boot. Her debut album – Bauhaus L’Appartamento – is a continuation of these themes with the Pandemic bringing them into sharp focus for her.
Opening track, The Most, is the perfect antipasti for the record – its uber cool delivery delicately excavating your psyche, which is a theme that runs throughout the album. The double entendre of the lyrics allows you to imagine the target of her affections as you see fit – be it another person or the country of her birth, or maybe even something else. The single – Into Your Eyes – has an almost lazy delivery, as lightly tapped drums and equally deft guitar strums sit behind Bardo’s vocal as she sings, ‘I don’t want anybody else, can’t you see? / But you’ve done all this just to be free.’
It’s Okay (To Not Be Okay) is a song title that utilises a saying that has become synonymous with the identification and acceptance of mental health issues. Here, it seems to be aimed at someone consumed with these issues to the point that they’re oblivious to our narrator’s own plight – ‘By the way, I am here with the same problems by myself’ – with the title’s circling mantra soaring, before bluntly concluding, ‘But tell me, why should I care.’
The album’s closer is aptly titled Goodbye Tomorrow, and contains the most forthright delivery on the whole record. Sonically lifted by high piano notes, it is pointed if still with a level of ambiguity – ‘I said goodbye to the faces that I knew most / I will survive, I’ll go my own way’ she proclaims, before concluding, ‘I walk away silently / I walk away from you.’
Looking in on oneself and then unveiling what you find to the world can be a daunting task. But the three-dimensional way in which Bardo delivers it on Bauhaus L’Appartamento is totally encapsulating. There is sweetness and light, but also a bitter darkness to it. The different pieces lock together to create a portrait of someone who, by the end, you feel a great deal of affection for. And there isn’t much more you can ask for from an artist than that.
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