Published Sep 17, 2019In an age when artists and producers alike can get their hands on whatever effects they please with the snap of a finger, a stripped-down, minimalist approach to guitar music might seem like an odd decision. But Matt Berry — vocalist and multi-instrumentalist behind the Berries — wouldn't have it any other way, and this shines through in every minute of Berryland, an unfiltered, unapologetic homage to '70s rock that manages to feel authentic in 2019.
With a similar approach as their 2018 debut, Start All Over Again, the Berries once again create riffs and melodies with clear inspiration from old-school rockers like the Steve Miller Band or Neil Young, but with a newly refined sense of style and a more confident execution.
Their new musical freedom means the album never stays in one place, with songs like the opening track "Makes Me Sick" and its ethereal flute solo appealing to a more psychedelic sound, while heartbreak songs "Fruit" and "Passing Scene" feel like folk rock tributes. If there is one constant throughout Berryland, it is the atmosphere Matt Berry evokes lyrically: a deep-seated human desire for independence in an unstable and overpowering world. Yet within Berry's layered vocal harmonies he is neither a complete sceptic, nor a naive hopeful.
For these reasons, listening to Berryland feels like a breath of fresh air in the modern era of complex musical innovation. By being able to look back nostalgically at great American and British rock, but recreate it in a way that feels new and relevant, the Berries set a great example of how to achieve more with less. (Run For Cover)