Bakar has perfected a gorgeous blend of rap, pop, R&B and synth electronics across new album ‘Halo’. Described as one of the most exciting artists in Britain and praised by the likes of Elton John, Virgil Abloh and Skepta, Bakar ensures he is on the path to becoming one of the greats. ‘Halo’ starts with ‘One In One Out’, a pulsating track with an addictive guitar solo. He sings “sooner or later I’ll change for the good”, warming up the listener to an album focused on the loneliness and lifestyle of a musician on the road.
The pace picks up with ‘Alive!’ full of acoustic guitar and quick tambourine, demonstrating – as ever – that Bakar can spread himself over many genres. This song also has moments of tender vocals, but pop choruses quickly sweep these away. One of the strongest tracks on ‘Halo’, ‘Alive!’ has a contagious warmth, making it the perfect choice for the first single release. ‘Facts Situation’ is a slower, calmer part of the album, pausing pop and rap. Singing “I hate the facts; I hate the situation” it’s a song of slow frustration and acceptance. It features Mark Crown on trumpet and a spoken outro by Mona Tougaard. ‘Halo’ is mostly an upbeat album, but it paces itself by taking breaks with more reflective tracks like this song.
The pace accelerates again with ‘All Night’ full of reverb guitars and emotion. It may not catch Bakar at his optimistic, but the upbeat drums keep the album high. It has moments of isolated vocals sighing in chorus, showing the never-ending depth of Bakar’s music. ‘All Night’ focuses on the complexities of affection and infatuation. ‘Selling Biscuits’ is another breath from the upbeat R&B-meets-pop blend, acting as the interlude with softly sung lyrics saying: “Selling biscuits to all the rich kids, same old habits because we’re all misfits…” With minimal instrumentation, it focuses most on Bakar’s lyricism across the whole album. It gives a moment to show the more emotional side of the album with little instrumental distraction.
‘Hate The Sun’ is another slower, more mellow song. Bakar sings about heartbreak and anger, his excoriating lyrics stating” “I hate the sun because that’s the sun that we had…” ‘Hate The Sun’ highlights Bakar’s great lyrics and powerful vocals at the end more than any other time in ‘Halo’. Bakar experiments with trippier and distorted vocals in ‘Invisible’. It is one of the more rap-focussed songs, underpinned by droning synth. The penultimate song ‘Sofa’ feels like a mix of all the tracks on ‘Halo’. It is full of vibrato guitar, which makes it feel trippy, but it has cleaner vocals and a big-sounding, smooth pop-like chorus.
The album finishes with a mix of the hit song ‘Hell N Back’, featuring Summer Walker, R&B goddess and close friend of Bakar. Most of ‘Halo’ was sculpted on the road, a moment of pause and introspection that affords Bakar space to surge forwards creatively.
Words: Amelie Grice