Consisting of The Technicolors’ frontman Brennan Smiley and country-rock star Austin Gibbs, The Bambinos is the newest project to emerge from Arizona-based record label 8123, who house such big name bands as The Maine and This Century. Their self-titled debut EP dropped earlier this month, to the delight of many fans across the globe. With their only previous single released over a year ago, the prospect of an entire collection of songs coming from the duo was becoming more and more distant. However, as the EP begins and ‘Barcelona Fantasy’ starts, you can feel kids’ dreams coming true.
With a fantasy-esque introduction and an undertone of haunting violin, the acoustic sounds of the opening track ‘Barcelona Fantasy’ are reminiscent of a Reflektor-era Arcade Fire. Beautiful harmonies and soft echoes make the song feel very powerful and large while still being a gentle caress of classic country-rock. Immediately after, however, the EP takes a completely different direction and as the final picking notes of ‘Barcelona Fantasy’ draw to a close, a more demanding and rocky feel descends on the duo’s debut as ‘Make Us Feel Younger’ kicks in. Not dissimilar to Ryan Adams with its repetitive chord sequences and scratchy vocals, it brings an edgier sound to the record and demonstrates the versatility of the pair. Heard in 2014, ‘The Power’ was the first single ever released by The Bambinos and the next track on the EP. Six minutes, twenty seconds long and filled with extended musical interludes, a number of crescendos and a multitude of beach sound effects – this song is everything 8123 stands for. It’s different yet classic, unique and distinct but with an identifiable sound. The Bambinos have managed to capture the essence of creation, marking their identity in musical form in only their first EP. As the EP draws to a close with ‘Take You Home’ and ‘Everything I Can’t Be’, it is clear to see that The Bambinos have clear potential to go on and produce much more similarly captivating music. “I’ll take you home” is sung by Gibbs in a bewitching moan, a pivotal moment of the self-titled record that showcases the emotion behind the music. ‘Everything I Can’t Be’ does a similar thing in a much more reserved way. The last song on the album, it slows the pace down and draws all five songs together in a subtle yet beautiful self-confession of nostalgia and doubt. Reflecting on The Bambinos EP as a whole, it is a carefully crafted emotive journey that showcases the various talents and stories that the pair have to offer. We can do no more than hope for more music or a tour to arise from this side-project, however, for now you can catch Brennan on tour with his band The Technicolors across North and South America.
Words by Heather Moss