Andrew Barnes is a New York-based producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has spent much of his musical life playing guitar and drums in a variety of heavy bands. Barnes made a splash with his solo recording chillwave/bedroom pop/dream pop project Fake Fever — and its 2020 full-length debut, Surrogate, which caught the attention of the blogosphere with its material being a hazy, subdued trip through a lazy river of vaporware-tinged dreams and memories.
Of course, nostalgia is a rather powerful drug. It can be provide a quick escape or a warm blanket of comfort in times of need — or in desperately uneasy times. But what happens when that temporary saccharine rush fades? As it turns out, the longer that Barnes spent in the nostalgic space that had long defined Fake Fever, the more he felt those reflective comforts dissipate over time, and found that the harsh realties of the present being uncomfortably inescapable. “When I initially tried to piece together ideas for my 2nd album, I was hitting a wall and slowly realized that I had spent so much time over the last few years trying to recreate this essence of my childhood and my past and existing in this escapist place where I was constantly looking backwards, that I was doing a horrible job of living in the present and trying to progress, both creatively and personally,” says Barnes.
After spending three years of false starts, new surroundings, much-needed band-aid ripping, chaotic experimentation and refinement, the result is Barnes highly-anticipated sophomore album Inside The Well. Slated for a for a September 1, 2032 release, the album thematically is a bittersweet breakup album viewed through the lens of nostalgia. “This album encompasses that sometimes-painful process of loosening the grip on the past so that you can free yourself to move forward,” the New York-based artist explains.
Sonically, the 11-song album sees Barnes sees him effortlessly weaving new genre flourishes to the Fake Fever sound including hints of shoegaze, house music, footwork, 2000s indietronica revival and drum & bass among others. The result is an album that sees Barnes showcases a new confidence that honors the electro pop sound and ear worm video game bleeps of the 90s and 00s while maintaining a creative, forward-thinking approach to blissful soundscapes and hook-driven songwriting.
Inside The Well‘s first single “Graveyard Shift” is a slickly produced and deliberately crafted slice of pop built around glistening synth arpeggios, sinuous bass lines and skittering processed beats paired Barnes’ ethereal and yearning falsetto, and his unerring knack for razor sharp, remarkably catchy hooks. Along with a shimmering guitar solo, “Graveyard Shift,” manages to sound like a sleek synthesis of Jorge Elbrecht’s work as an artist and producer, Brothertiger‘s 2022 self-titled album and 80s sophisitipop. But the song is rooted in the devastation of heartbreak, the longing for something you can’t get back, and the slow process of moving forward as best as you can.