My love for Bambara is something else. I practically live in my Bambara shirt, and I still think about their show from last year at the Soup Kitchen. I had no expectations from what I was going to witness, but I knew that from their records I was going to witness something that would blow my mind.
Stray was released on Valentine’s Day- the perfect date for this record. Stray is made up of dark, deathly and romantic songs that totally justify my belief that Reid Bateh is one of the best songwriters around. For me he possesses that same genius that Nick Cave has. A fearless approach with unconventional romantic tones. Think Rimbaud, think Baudelaire and mix it with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg- then you’ll get it. My point is this- Reid is an exceptional writer, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if one day, he writes a novel and that novel gets turned into a film with the band creating the score for it. Can you imagine?! It would be insane.
There’s a fair amount of references to death on this record, and you know, it’s something we cannot avoid at all. My enjoyment for things has dipped a bit since losing my Grandma in August, but I’ve found comfort in music. Bambara have reinforced everything I love about music on this record. They just nail everything I love about dark music that is unafraid to expose the things that we try to shy away from. Everything from the production to the order the songs are in on this record is so carefully done, and you can truly hear the growth in the band on Stray. If you’ve seen them live, you’ll know exactly how intense their shows are. Reid is one of the most captivating front men I’ve ever seen. Blaze is up there as one of my favourite drummers of all time and William is so effortlessly laid-back and cool. You wish you could do what each of them do, and not only do they have this presence live but they also have it on record. Stray shows us all why they are one of, if not THE most vital band around.
I can’t possibly pick a favourite song on this record; it’s one of those records that you go back to and with every listen, something else just blows your mind. The record is like one euphoric story that builds and builds. I adore the intense sounds on this record and maybe it has this feel due to Reid and Blaze being twins and having this bond but with William he adds this feel to the band that sort of calms the storm slightly. The way Blaze annihilates the drums and how Reid has this snarl-like feel to his vocals is beautifully wrapped up in how soothing William unleashes his inspiring bass playing, and beyond. All three of them are exceptional musicians, and for me, they do justify this on all of their records, but Stray takes you some place else. It’s another world, and a world you never ever want to escape from. It is such a comforting and powerful record, and the production is out of this world.
Ben & Lily is a prime example of Reid’s songwriting, and how brilliant it is. The way the song flows reminds me a bit of The Bad Seeds’ Thirsty Dog. It also sounds like something you’d hear in an old cowboy film- it’s got a great Spaghetti Western feel to it. Play it loud, and maybe have it on repeat for your next few listens. It feels like a short story, but one you don’t want to end. I just adore the places that Bambara take you and how they can just take you on this ride with them; their music is so soothing and comforting. To others maybe it is too ferocious, but that’s where I find comfort the most.
There is one part of the record from one song in particular that I keep getting drawn to. This is taken from Made For Me: “Lit cigarettes will rain. On a field where horses roam untamed. See you running with them through the flames. Wild flowers in their manes as you lead the stampede my way.” There is something about this that just hits me in the gut. I mean the whole song does, but this part really hits me. I don’t know why, but it’s just so powerful and beautiful. However, if you’re looking for a song to truly break your heart- then listen to Sweat and I mean REALLY listen to it. It’s fucking brutal, and really heavy.
Stray is magnificent, but what else do you expect from a band as powerful as Bambara? Stray is probably going to end up being my most played record of the year. I cannot get enough of it, nor do I want to. I’m happy to have this record on repeat for the foreseeable now. I felt this way about Shadow On Everything, and they’ve done it again with Stray. I feel I could write about this record forever, and ever. Until words become pointless and no longer carry any meaning. An absolute honour to listen to.