San Diego’s Barbarian just got back from their vacation, and they want you to watch their home movies. Fortunately, their vacation footage is set to their latest single, “Medium Spirits,” and is almost indiscernible from what could be your dad’s VHS tapes of his college buddies fucking around in Guatemala. Fuzzy and blurry, not entirely of the past or entirely personal but adjacent to those ideas, Barbarian’s laid-back, slightly goofy video adds an element of bromance to their otherwise lovelorn song, re-contextualizing the pain of leaving someone behind with continuing friendship and transience.
Born by the sea, Barbarian mix the detachment and synthetic vibe of the 80s with more 60s-era surf and soft harmonies. “Medium Spirits,” the B-side to last year’s “Daze of Youth” single, is a song about the frustrating inescapability of an ex-girlfriend whose face is on every corner (let’s hope, for Barbarian’s sake, that she’s not an underwear model) and whose presence lingers in a way that’s both unwanted and hard to push away. Relying on minimal lyrics and only slightly broken repetition, “Medium Spirits” still artfully conveys, without trying to solve, the contradictory feelings of something sweetly lingering and the dead-to-me, defensive conviction of unwanted confrontation.
The band recently signed to Manimal’s subsidiary label, Loose Recordings, run by Chains of Love lead singer Nathalia Pizarro. Fingers crossed that Pizarro’s similar slightly punk penchant for the past pushes Barbarian’s first full release out sooner rather than later this year.