Brims with real confidence
Joe Goggins
17:08 20th September 2021

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Bauhaus, L’Appartamento feels like an album born of false starts. Since making the bold move from her hometown of Brescia to Manchester in order to pursue a career in music, Julia Bardo has changed lanes a number of times. She’s enrolled on various university courses, and then dropped off of them. She was an early member of Working Men’s Club, only to depart just as they were signing to Heavenly Recordings, realising she craved more songwriting autonomy. Her last EP, Phase, came out in March of 2020, and, by her own admission, sunk without trace, consumed by the maelstrom of the pandemic.

Perhaps all of these things were blessings in disguise; this handsome first full-length is scored through with a palpable world-weariness that lends depth to the breeziness of its melodies and its pleasantly languid pacing. A treatise on identity that looks both inward and outward, Bauhaus, L’Appartamento leans into Bardo’s confusion on the topic, embracing its complexities and mysteries rather than try to make sense of them. It’s an album scored through with her own musical eccentricities; structurally, these are, in the main, guitar-pop songs, but there’s usually something else at work. 

The noodling riffery on ‘Love Out of Control’, for instance, brings the laid-back indie rock of Brooklyn label Captured Tracks to mind, whilst the sonically upbeat ‘Do This to Me’ and ‘The Greatest’, both pretty exercises in jangle pop, pleasingly juxtapose the sunniness of the sound with the uncertainty of the lyrics. There are points where Bardo lapses into being a little too on-the-nose, whether that’s thematically — ‘It’s Okay (To Not Be Okay)’ is a case in point — or musically, with the reliance on melodic guitars sometimes threatening to turn Bauhaus, L’Appartamento into a little bit too much of a muchness. 

Every time you find yourself wandering down that road of thought, though, Bardo finds a way to drag you off of it, whether it’s the stormy, exposed-nerve atmosphere of a track like ‘Impossible’ — a real sonic outlier on the album — or ‘The One’, which, with its post-punk inflections, pivots to something more in line with Dum Dum Girls or later-era Vivian Girls. Bardo has left herself plenty of room to grow into as a songwriter, but Bauhaus, L’Appartamento is an assured debut that reveals a counterintuitive truth about songwriting; by focusing on her insecurities, rather than shying away from them, she’s produced a work that brims with real confidence in her craft.

Bauhaus, L’Appartamento is out now.

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Photo: Press