Bartees Strange Farm to Table 4AD
Bartees Strange is an artist who deals in abundance. Both in the stylistic breadth he embraces, and in the unfiltered way he channels his personality into every aspect of his sound.
Where Strange’s debut album, Live Forever, saw him finding his place within indie rock, parts of Farm to Table are dedicated to taking stock of how far he’s come. Cosigns particularly encapsulates this: “I’m in LA, I’m with Phoebe/ I’m a genius damn,” he sings, referring to Phoebe Bridgers before nodding to other friends and peers Justin Vernon, Courtney Barnett and Lucy Dacus.
But there’s precious little time to pause and reflect. For the most part, you sense an artist eager to flex his stylistic prowess and revelling in the confidence to push his sounds in new, fresh directions. But this can yield mixed results. Wretched, for example, positively soars as it moves from soulful indie riffs to euphoric pop and tender folk intonations. The aforementioned Cosigns, however, is less successful, its transition from electronica to power-rock between verse and chorus is disjointed to the point of jarring.
Ultimately, this roaming impulse feels born of a genuine curiosity rather than lack of focus. On We Were Only Close For Like Two Weeks Strange samples a track from his next album, perhaps the most overt indicator of Strange’s forward momentum and ambition. But while it’s undoubtedly exciting to look out for what’s coming next, you do wonder if it comes at the expense of truly being in the moment. As Strange himself sings, “I don’t know how to be full, it’s the hardest to know/ I keep consuming I can’t give it up, it’s never enough.”