Berries – How We Function

Posted: 4 July 2022 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Xtra Mile Recordings – 8th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

She sang it! She sang it! Yes, the hook to the album’s opening song, ‘We are Machines’ is ‘We are machines / it’s how we function’. Simple pleasures and all that. But there are many pleasures packed into this album’s forty minutes.

Having been showcasing BERRIES tunes since the time of their second EP back in 2017, the arrival of their full-length debut is a cause of excitement. And the anticipation is justified, with a tight set of songs that don’t disappoint.

What’s promised is an album ‘rammed with taut, angular guitar lines and packing a gritty, garage-grunge punch’, and that’s what’s delivered. None of the songs are over four minutes in duration, but they each contain so much action, so much traction, so much movement, each takes time to unravel the tightly-woven, knotted, intermingled noodly jumbles of guitar lines. There’s a lot of taut, tense jangling and angling going on here, as they cut across the mathy aspects of the guitar lines and the spiky post-punk chop of Gang of Four, and they marry it all together with strong melodic vocals.

The tension is appropriate for an album that tackles themes of mental health, feeling overlooked and sexism ‘with a searing honesty and intensity’ to present, as the put it, a collection of songs about “growth, strength and rising above all of the negativity and noise”.

There isn’t a duff track to be found here. Yes, the singles are obvious choices and standouts, not least of all the gutsy ‘Haze’, which is more or less representative of the album as a whole with its bold , grungy guitars and dynamic construction, exploding into the chorus after an understated verse, but then ‘Discreetly’ really pushes things hard, and rocks more overtly than much of the album with a monster chorus and driving riff – and frenzied guitar solo – and packs it all into two and a half minutes. ‘Fabricate’ calls to mind Kenny Loggins’ ‘Dangerzone’, and is propelled by a thick, gritty bass, while the guitars stop and start and stutter, and ‘Basic Tables’ starts with some tightly interweaving, stop/spart guitar work before breaking into a breezy chorus.

What BERRIES achieve is a perfect balance of passion and personal honesty, with sass and a pop sensibility. That means that How We Function feels sincere, as it is, but isn’t lecturesome or lugubrious. It doesn’t sugar-coat difficult emotional matters, but isn’t whiney or woeful. How We Function is an album of empowerment, of determination. The songs are both instant grabs and growers, and with this much energy, it’s exciting, not just the first time, but again and again.

AA

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