Artist: George Barnett
Album: 17 Days
Release Date: March 12, 2012
RIYL: Azure Blue, Paper Lions, The Kooks
Very few people achieve anything of great significance prior to their 18th birthday, particularly to international acclaim. Young Brit George Barnett is one of those few people talented and driven enough to accomplish such a feat. With the release of 17 Days, Barnett’s genre-transcending collection of six-months-worth of musical effort, the multi-instrumentalist showcases both his ability as a musician and a producer. The bedroom pop record is the fruit of a promotional endeavor spanning half of Barnett’s 17th year on earth. For six months last year, Barnett wrote, recorded, and released a new song every 17 days. 17 Days is the cream of that crop, and provides audiences with a look at the various directions Barnett’s talents can take his music.
The album opens with “Apocolade,” a glam baroque pop anthem that builds into a swelling competition between the epics of the embattled strings and a hectic choir of allusions. Whether the listener finds this match to be exciting, with each side informing and empowering the other, or rather shamelessly self-indulgent may prove to be an indication of the listener’s interpretation of the rest of the album. “Apocolade” is as misleading of an opening track as Barnett could’ve orchestrated. The rest of “17 Days” shies away from the strings that define “Apocolade,” tending to favor instead the upbeat rhythms and syncopated, angular guitars characteristic of the following track, “Lone Rose.”
Undeniably a highlight of the LP, “Lone Rose” is immediately catchy, driven by an easygoing, cruising garage-pop rhythm intermittently accented by funk guitars and an encouraging brass section. The track’s layered chorus imitates the camaraderie of summer and the simple energy inherent to falling in love. Although the album goes on to explore a plethora of diverse genres including folk, blues rock, garage pop and math rock, the simultaneously relaxed-yet-energetic-and-youthful mood “Lone Rose” creates remains a constant throughout 17 Days.
As 17 Days progresses, it’s easy to imagine Barnett’s various stylistic ventures as a product of some immaturity and a naïve, adolescent self-importance, with each song emphasizing its own merits and ignoring the remainder of the LP. But a more careful examination of 17 Days seems to characterize Barnett as a simple, personable figure and each track’s strengths begin to highlight the expert control Barnett exerts over his work. So, rather than a collection of poorly-matched misadventures in musical self-indulgence, the common thread of youth, energy, and summer romance unites 17 Days into a more cohesive look into the teenage angst that characterizes Barnett. It’s this youthful energy that allows him to exercise his mature, well-developed talent and musicianship free of the restraints of adulthood, making 17 Days one of the most accurate depictions of 21st century adolescence in recent memory.
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