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10th March 2022

Album review: Nobody’s Home – Bakar

A review of the new Bakar album by Daniel Brackstone.
Album review: Nobody’s Home – Bakar
Photo: Bakar ‘Nobody’s Home’ Official Album Artwork

Written by Daniel Brackstone.

Apposite for a record centred on the immigrant’s experience, Bakar’s Nobody’s Home is a vibrant composite of genres. If you ask Spotify, they’ll shrug and simply underline the project as ‘Alternative’. But, to be fair, categorising the album under any neat label is a challenge. Bakar flaunts his knack for adapting to foreign places through his leaps between groovy synth-funk, abrasive punk-rock and solemn gospel. His first fully-fledged album in over four years, Nobody’s Home, lasting three-quarters of an hour, is his biggest offering to date.

The record reveals a more heartfelt, vulnerable Bakar than we’re perhaps used to. The energetic, abrasive punk that pervaded Badkid is still heard, but the record makes space as well for a softer, brooding, more melodic style. At its best, this is felt in ‘Riot’, ‘Not From Here’, and ‘Gotham.’ Impressively, Bakar retains thematic flexibility within this new tone. He croons for riot and revolution in the interest of his people’s freedom. He laments his mistreatment as a foreigner: “How comes it you sat from me and my kin?” And he explores his history of drug-abuse. This mostly-harmonic coexistence between soft and abrasive tracks elevates the vitality of the heavier songs – like ‘Reclaim’, ‘Ginger Pubes’, and ‘Free’.

Within this binary of soft and hard, the album offers some more easy-listening tracks. ‘The Mission’, for one, is a thrilling, synth-funk tune focused on immigrant prosperity. It is polished, sharp, energetic and deserves its place as the album’s most streamed track. Bakar echoing “Tell him that’s the vision, yeah / Tell him that’s the mission, yeah” over the chorus’s lively, meandering synth is entrancing. It’s definitely playing into what’s vogue in music right now. Its popularity might be deterring for some but, if that’s you, I dare you to listen and see if you aren’t moved by the chorus.

Narratively speaking, the album also has something to offer. Having battled through immigrant oppression, displacement and failed relationships the album arrives at ‘NW3.’ Built up from an uplifting drumbeat and determined rhythm, the track describes finally arriving at a home in North West London with a
partner – “I think I found us the answer in NW / I might end up with you”. The song appears to be the solution to the album’s antagonisms and feels like it should be the finale. However, it’s not. The seeming resolution of ‘NW3’ is quickly undone by ‘Gotham’, a bleak lament to a dead relationship, “love’s gone, love’s stale.” The album closes looking upwards though, with ‘Build Me A Way’ – a definite high point for the project. The track warms itself up with a chorus of gospel singers, and Bakar then sings about his hopeful return to a search for home. A resonant ending to the

Nobody’s Home is fluent across a mix of genres and handles complex themes, demonstrating Bakar’s artistic maturity after the more crude, rudimental Badkid. It’s vulnerable in places, boasting in others, soft here and hard there. All round, it’s an engaging, emotional march forward for Bakar.

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