Album Review: Passport to Stockholm – All at Once EP

By on Tuesday, 1st September 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Passport to Stockholm All at Once EP coverTeenage friends and songwriters Chris “Barny” Barnard (vocals) and Tom Piggott (guitar) are at the heart of London-based act Passport to Stockholm, who I introduced you all to last summer in this previous Bands to Watch. Just last Friday, the group – which includes percussionist Henri Grimes and cellist Mariona De Lamo – released their latest EP, ‘All at Once’. It seems quite a prophetic title, given that Passport to Stockholm are set to perform this year’s CMJ in October in New York City, having already caught the eye of our friends Baeblemusic in the Big Apple who said their EP track ‘Chemistry propels the band “…into the pantheon of passionate and sincere British pop / folk / rock which has dominated the charts for the last 5 years.” But I’m getting ahead of myself here…

The title track begins the EP in earnest, Barnard’s full voice rising, sweeping note to note and above satisfying above the anthemic but otherwise brilliantly understated guitar strums, cello notes and percussion. The overall effect is lush, with his bandmates’ backing vocals joining to add further richness. The pizzicato strings add interest in the verses of ‘Let Me Know’, which are then followed by Barnard’s alternating staccatoing and smooth vocal delivery; the textural differences show a maturity that puts Passport to Stockholm far ahead of any of their indie pop contemporaries.

The earlier mentioned ‘Chemistry’ is the EP standout track, beginning and continuing on with pounding beats, accompanied by the yearning cello. But it’s Barnard’s vocals and the lyrics that are the real stars here. The chemistry addressed here is the tricky, ridiculous kind that stems from the weird gut feeling we get when we meet someone else and know we should be with him/her and going further from that, the terrible feeling that keeps us up at night when she/he is already with someone else (in this case, the woman is married to another man). The painful conflict of reconnecting with and romancing someone you loved and still love is evident in the words “already in love, you got back in touch, I just couldn’t turn you down.” You feel the ache, the void as the song ends with ” I won’t love like this again / I’ll never love like this again.”

The EP closes with the catchy, xylophone-laden ‘Wanted It More’, and if you’ve been listening to the EP from start to finish you come to the conclusion that this song, or any on this EP really, would feel right at home on a rom-com soundtrack or, dare I say it, Radio 2. The sweeping instrumentation with Barnard’s vocals make for a poppy, accessible sound that I’m betting will make waves far beyond their native England in short order.

8/10

‘All at Once’, the new EP from Passport to Stockholm, is out now.

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