Ali Barter is sweet and angry, dark and light, deep and shallow.
She is whatever she wants to be and that’s the message she’s putting across in this uncompromising album of pop-rock.
As soon as I heard this record I was transported back to the 90s, to the era that created bands like Garbage and The Cardigans, and which Barter has clearly taken inspiration from. Heavy guitar riffs juxtapose with sweet vocals as she sings on the feminist anthem A Suitable Girl, calling out one of the most insidiously sexist comments that every woman has encountered “Give us a smile baby, act like a real lady”.Throughout the whole album, Barter invites you to underestimate her just so she can hit you with the kind of mosh-worthy guitar solo that shows up on track Far Away.
She can be earnest too. On the ballad Tokyo, she sounds melancholy and wistful, and reminded me of a band she says she has been influenced by, Smashing Pumpkins. But honestly, she’s at her best when she’s calling people out on their shit. “But you don’t understand what it’s like to be a man” she sings on Girlie Bits, apparently quoting an ex-boyfriend.
The sound isn’t revolutionary, but it’s a throwback to music that deserves to be heard again. If this is the beginning of a 90s revival, then I’m completely on board. Ditch the synths, break out the guitars and let’s get Ali Barter to lead us out of this mire of misogyny.