Album Review: We Barbarians – Headspace EP

We Barbarians EP

We Barbarians aren’t particularly original, drawing on plenty of famous sounds from the last 10 years, as well as other, older influences. There’s an opening guitar that reminds you of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up”, and a final track that sounds like a New Order or U2 composite. These two tracks are the EP’s strongest. “Headspace” jiggles and jangles from that Arcade Fire opening gambit, floating into an affirming, dancing-about-in-your-room chorus that you can hum along to on any day. “Chambray”, again exhibiting a strong chorus, is the first of many instances of the band leaning toward U2. That proves to be a positive asset, as long as the band slows down the tempo, letting David Quon belt out slow, powerful vocal lines.

Even if there is a lack of originality, We Barbarians have produced a very good EP. The sense that they’re part of a “sound” doesn’t matter in the slightest. In fact, it may even be a strength.While it’s easy to pick out some of the possible inspirations for their music, there’s a sense that they’re very conscious of their influences, and, as such, use them respectfully. “Strange Overtones”, for example, takes on something of the Echo and the Bunnymen sound without stealing it. “Stroke by Stroke”, slowed down, might be Vampire Weekend-ish, but again, it’s very much its own song. Given everything that comes with “respectful use,” Headspace takes on a sense of depth that’s quite rare for an EP.

What’s more, everything is incredibly well-produced: clean, crisp, with just the right level of reverb. Everything that happens on these tracks occurs with serious clarity and purpose, both in the studio and in their mining of ancestral power.

Essential Tracks: “Chambray”, “Headspace”


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