For a song about a Black Mirror episode, Barbara’s debut single “BRB” is sonically anything but grim.
Barbara, the musical brainchild of brothers Henry and John Tydeman, hails from Brighton, UK, and one can quickly tell as much from the immediate charm of their first song. The four-minute track is just as fluorescent in its sonic palette as it is philosophical in its lyrical content. The band is self-described “progressive pop,” which they wholly justify throughout the song as it evolves from crackly 60s ballad to jingly show tune to psychedelic indie rock. The complex instrumentation and genre switches ebb and flow as effortlessly as ocean currents; one of the most impressive features of the track is that it manages to be incredibly dynamic while easy on the ears.
While hearing “BRB” for the first time, the listener quickly begins to observe a remarkable contrast. As catchy, Broadway-inspired instrumentation drives the song forward, the lyrics cast a melancholic undertone over the peppy drums and blaring horns. The song draws inspiration from an episode of Black Mirror in which a woman is able to continue her life with an android copy of her dead lover, but is unable to feel truly happy with him. Lyrics like “As I look long and hard at the mirror / The mirror hung on the wall / I don’t feel like there’s anyone left / And I see nothing at all” strike a powerful chord in all of us. While written about a science-fiction show, they target a collective aspect of the human experience with a haunting accuracy.
To put it in summation, “BRB” makes me feel like drinking orange juice while contemplating the ethical questions surrounding the future of AI. After several streams of the delightful track and additions to several playlists, it’s safe to say that Barbara’s brand of musical wit is one to keep an eye on.
Listen to “BRB” here: