Bambara - Love on My Mind (Wharf Cat)
Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Bambara – Love on My Mind (Wharf Cat)

Bambara return on 25 February with a mini album called Love on My Mind, mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer.  The background behind the completion of the 6-track mini-album demonstrates the difficulties the pandemic brought, which will be recognisable to many bands.  With Bambara’s core (twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh, the singer and drummer, and childhood friend William Brookshire, bass) scattered across the USA, they remotely wrote and recorded an EP.  However they were dissatisfied with the results and immediately binned it.  They felt it was “dishonest”.  In their quest to strive for something new they felt that had failed and realised they had to be physically together and so reconvened in New York.

There were elements they wanted to add to this recording and so enlisted the vocals of Bria Salmena (Orville Peck/Frigs) and Drew Citron (Public Practice).  In addition Bambara wanted to expand their sound palette so turned to Jason Disu and Jeff Tobias (Sunwatchers) to add trombone and saxophone respectively.  They recorded again and this time it all came together.  The result is Love On My Mind and it was absolutely worth the effort.

The opening track is ‘Slither In The Rain‘.  Bambara’s music creates such visual imagery and this track is an atmospheric introduction to the album.  Here we meet one of the main characters on the album, a lonely man who throws bottles at aeroplanes.  Reid Bateh explains further on the inspiration behind the lyrics:

The lyrics for Love on My Mind are a little more personal, and definitely more vulnerable and human. There’s more of a focus on realism. I think part of that was because I’d become zoned in on photography during lockdown. Being in NYC without being able to actually experience it made me search for representations of the way it feels to be running around in the city. And I found that in photographs. Mainly, Ballad of Sexual Dependency by Nan Goldin. This also influenced the decision to make one of the characters in the story a photographer, presenting pieces of the story through her snapshots.”

Mythic Love‘ is more like ‘Serafina’ with a driving bassline and tempo that rattles along.  The vocals also feature Bria Salmena and together with Reid’s impassioned delivery it’s a track which will surely be a single at some point, full of fire and crashing cymbals…but it’s that bassline that grabs hold and does not let go until the very end.

Lead single ‘Birds‘ is followed by ‘Point and Shoot‘ inspired by Reid’s searching for a connection with New York during lockdown.  It’s filled with vivid scenes of the seedier side of life:

“heart-shaped hickies round the scar on his neck”
rooftop girls standing shoulder-to-shoulder, naked figures with their hips cocked,

The lyrics have such an intensity, and how do Bambara create that soundscape?  Its astonishing, and brimming with Americana.  The guitar riffs create a distinct sound which makes their songs recognisable.

Feeling Like A Funeral’ is the story of a city knifing with the vocals of Reid Bateh continuing to be impassioned and full of heartbreak but again this track is not full of melancholy.  Even though the subject matter of Bambaras songs are full of sorrow and darkness, the music and vocals are soaring.  ‘Feeling Like A Funeral‘ is perhaps the most conventional in terms of verse and chorus, but the Bateh brothers combine in the chorus to give it such layering and give it an anthemic quality.

The album closes with the longest track at 5mins  ‘Little Wars‘.  Loneliness, regret and isolation seep from this track, and again the guitar is prominent.  This is a complex track full of story-telling and shifting pace.  The female vocals are a stunning addition and give an added ethereal dimension to the track.  And the end is a haunting close to a breath-taking album.

Bambara release mini-album Love on My Mind on 25 February 2022 via Wharf Cat.  For more information on the band including their extensive tour dates please check out their facebook and bandcamp.

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