GENRE | WHITEWASHED POST-R&B
VERDICT | PRE-CLASSIC
LABEL | MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES
RELEASE | 8.6.13
A comparison to Frank Ocean sounds like the highest possible praise a critic could give an up-and-coming act, but hold your horses for a second. London-bred singer-songwriter Barbarossa definitely succeeds in replicating Ocean’s mournful and intricate production —“The Endgame” sounds like a de-funkified cover of “Pink Matter”—and James Mathé’s heavenly vocals could even go toe-to-toe with Ocean’s signature falsetto croon. The significant point of departure that sent channel ORANGE into the stratosphere and leaves Barbarossa’s newest EP Bloodlines back on Earth was the originality, honesty, and detail in Ocean’s song-craft.
The man’s a born lyricist, but that’s not to belittle Barbarossa.
Bloodlines stands tall as a carefully assembled testament to how far an album can go on ethereal beauty alone. Album centerpiece “S.I.H.F.F.Y.” acts as a clean microcosm for the album as a whole. You could close your eyes and listen to the slow-burn build of the fog of sound along with Mathé’s aching vocals, but the lyrics remain thin. Barbarossa is perilously close to an album worthy of classic status.
A little more ingenuity in the lyrics, and he could be a legend.