Habibi – Habibi

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

The British coast has been assaulted by the tide in the past few weeks. So rather than scuffling around in a flustered attempt to fill sandbags like a poor old trench-footed WW1 Soldier, a better idea would be to embrace the waves with the tasty surf sounds of Brooklyn outfit Habibi, and their self-titled Debut album.

‘Habibi’, released on Burger Records, is a charming collection of simple, memorable tracks. The band go down the route of a growing number of bands in recent times of looking back a generation or two at sounds that, with hindsight, have proved authentic and timeless, and trying to give it a more modern perspective. In Habibi’s case, this means taking plenty of inspiration from 1960s Motown girl groups like the Shangri-Las and welding it together with the more contemporary sound of The Drums.

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The result is some very convincing, sturdy post punk fun. Each of the tracks on the album are characterised by their achingly simple, catchy backbone; complemented deftly by the modest, low-fi production. The mood is set from track 1, with ‘Far From Right’ – the infectious melody eventually joined by the soft, aloof tones of Lead singer and founder Rahill Jamalifard. This theme is carried on into ‘I Got The Moves,’ where the Motown girl group influence really makes itself heard in the vocal harmonies.

From here the whole album sort of floats along gracefully like a daydream, lingering in and out of consciousness in a haze of ride symbols, warm bass and clean guitar; more reminiscent of a summer frolic in the garden than what you would imagine Brooklyn to be like at this time of year. Rahill and her merry band of musical maidens proceed to paint delicate, furry landscapes for you to drift over; encasing you in a kind of shadowy languor which is quite satisfying indeed. Suddenly you just want to stick two fingers up to the winter and flit around doing Summery things, like taking your sofa out to the garden, blowing bubbles or taking selfies in hats, or whatever the devil the kids are at these days. Those pesky kids!

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You get varied palette with the forlorn whimsy of ‘She Comes Along’, followed swiftly by the excellent ‘Persepolis,’ all coming to a profoundly ambivalent end with the final track ‘Gone Like Yesterday,’ which builds deceptively into a subtle, but satisfying crescendo, bringing to an end a fine debut effort all round.

What can be deduced from this album is that, influences and final product taken into account, Habibi have achieved nothing groundbreaking. You can confidently say, though, that what they have achieved is an effortlessly likeable, cool record which will surely boast a long shelf life. So as the year progress, expect to hear a fair bit more of Habibi, with an album that will grow in relevance as the summer approaches.

Ryan McMurtry

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