Charlie Barnes – Geekk

Elements of the soul boy sneak through intermittently too

Elements of the soul boy sneak through intermittently too

An astonishing LP: dramatic in feel, remarkably assured in its scope and seemingly content to float around in a bubble of its own making. Geekk is a brilliant debut from Charlie Barnes, who turns 21 on its release. It is certainly a young man’s LP with its yearning vocals and soaring arrangements.

For all the young man stuff, Barnes plays around with some very traditional settings. Architects could be a show tune, (as could apt soliloquy moments like Bluebell) and indeed there’s the feeling right through the LP that Barnes is writing for a musical of some sort. This hunch is at its strongest when tracks like Snakes Ladders and Aeroplanes are heard; it’s that insistence that every element of the song should be led by what’s being sung. Snakes Ladders and Aeroplanes is a quite complex track replete with remarkable vocal swoops and whisperings, initiating in their turn changes of tempo and texture which are powerful elements in their own right. And yet… it always comes back to the vocal line to tell it what to do. And I’m guessing of course, but with track names like Final Call, it feels that there’s a distinct deliberate nod to the stage…

Elements of the soul boy sneak through intermittently too; tracks like This Boy Blind and Degas Dancer remind this reviewer of the intelligent mid-eighties alternative soul of Aztec Camera and Prefab Sprout. It’s all there; the unassuming observation leading to a confessional moment that is welded to a clever hook or arrangement, and elegiac chord structures leading to a satisfying emotional pay off.

So there you have it, passionate, committed intelligent and a slightly rarefied listen that may leave you a little light headed.