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Babal: Who Will I Be When I Leave?

A very eclectic and weird album, hard to categorize but also hard to deny the great musicianship and creativity on it. Who Will I Be When I Leave? is the 5th studio album by art-rock, cinematic-rock, progressive-rock band, Britain’s own Babal, 9th if we consider the four-album run from 1999 to 2012 under the moniker Babble. The trio is comprised by Karen Langley co vocals, Rob Williams on guitars, some bass and synths, and Jon Sharp on drums… with guest musician Paul Smith on bass on a couple of songs.

They list their influences as Hendrix, Zappa, Talking Heads, amongst others… but I also hear some Fripp in Williams guitar playing, some VDGG on almost every atmospheric synths-vocals duo, and even some Pixies in how the vocal melodies and their hypnotic narrative are being portrayed by Langley.

It’s a very dense and complex listen, not an easy one and it takes time to develop and bloom… sometimes too much… but it has a lot of unique and cool arrangements, and the intricate playing between the outstanding percussion and the multiple guitars layers is fantastic.

The highlights for me are the satiric “Sitting Pretty”, an upfront critic to the need to smile and be beautiful, being rich without earning it, the ceramic-looking faces of plastic-hearted people that just believe all is theirs because… yeah, because they just deserve it and are entitle to it; “Dead-End Friends” and “The Wolf Slips Up Quickly”, both of them very groovy and melodic, twisted-sounding but melodic; the hypnotic “Baby Wants Freedom”; and the jazzy and epic “Doors”. An album as dark and crazy as the 21st century can be, proper of its time and very forward thinking, avant-garde at places but mostly very eclectic sounding, chaotic at spots but without abandoning the unifying concept that miraculously flows song after song. If I were to separate music from vocals and rate two different albums, perhaps that rating would be a little higher for both, but there’s something odd about the singing and the melodies that pushes me away from liking the album per se. Cheers.

Track Listing:
  1. 3 Minutes (6:45)
  2. Sitting Pretty 6:31)
  3. Corkscrew Driver (8:19)
  4. Dead-End Friends (4:33)
  5. The Wolf Slips Up Quickly (6:17)
  6. Made Without Instructions (4:58)
  7. Baby Wants Freedom (7:56)
  8. Doors (12:12)
  9. Who Will I Be When I Leave? (3:58)

Added: November 17th 2022
Reviewer: Jose Antonio Marmol
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 644
Language: english

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