There cannot be many songwriters that have taken an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror as their muse, but with BRB, Brighton duo, Barbara (Henry and John Tydeman) have done just that.
BRB is Barbara‘s debut single and it is a delightful introduction to their work. It’s a luxuriant piece of power-pop crammed full of lush harmonies, rich chords and quirky changes in tempo.
The theme of the song is the relationship between a woman and the android based on her recently deceased partner, who has been recreated using information harvested from his social media accounts. It’s the plot of the Black Mirror episode – Be Right Back (BRB!).
The song starts with the sound of an old, scratchy, vinyl record playing, which reflects the character of the android, who is actually an amalgamation of old recordings himself. Clever eh? Military style drums, chimes bars, and horns give the start of the song a vague Sgt. Pepper feel.
Barbara include among their influences ELO, 10cc and ABBA. There is certainly a late 70’s pop-rock element to their overall sound. BRB has melodies that would not be out of place in an Abba song (I’m fairly sure one tiny section is lifted straight from Mamma Mia). The counterpoint vocals and harmonies work wonderfully too.
The band also make excellent use of tempo changes within the song (think 10cc – Dreadlock Holiday, or Wings – Live and Let Die). This is not done gratuitously, there is always a reason for it. The song’s tempo changes, as the narrative switches between the bereaved partner and the android. It’s a conceit used in duets in musical theatre, and works brilliantly well in BRB.
If you’re a fan of 70’s power-pop bands like 10cc or Wings, or artists whose songs have a bit of a show-tune feel to them, someone like Mika or even The Scissor Sisters, then give Barbara and BRB a listen. It’s out on all the usual platforms from January 22nd.