Photo Credit: Jake Dypka
Banfi is a three-piece pop/rock band that ignites the teenage angst buried within all of us. Based out of London, their latest release,The Jack Powell EP, has the emotional pull of a classic romantic comedy. It's filled with the lyrical content and melodic lines that evoke images of awkward and honest exchanges of affection. ]Enter John Cusack standing outside a window blasting music from a boombox.]
Though they have been compared to the likes of Alt-J and The Knife, Banfi brings its own specific sound to the table. The EP features four songs, each with a unique exploration of loss and longing. Joe Banfi's vocals are those sweet indie croaks that go so effortlessly over verbed out guitar strums, oscillating between the gentleness of Sufjan Stevens in one line to the power found in one of Steven Tyler's signature screams in the next. Banfi's new EP is unsettling, touching, stirring and honest all wrapped up in a lovely indie package.
The Jack Powell EP begins with "Never Really Cared," a seemingly knee-jerk and bitter declaration that "I should have said something at the start. Because June, I never really cared about you." Whether "June" refers to a season or a person is unclear, but the song is painfully real nonetheless. Frontman Joe Banfi addressed the making of the song,
“The starting point was this idea of exploring how mean and nasty you could make a love song, for no particular reason other than we knew there was something good and real around mean love. Rejection is bad enough when it comes from a stranger, but its at its worst when there’s a long history of a relationship that’s being entirely rejected, with no sign of gratitude or desire to treasure what happened there."
The next track "Future" softens a bit, exploring the realm of possibility under different circumstances. The lyrics, "The future's on our side. Call me when you get here," are a hopeful glance forward after loss, giving the heart a break after the intensity of the first track. Banfi shared,
"Robin Williams' characters meant a lot to me as a kid, so then the nature of his death a few years ago was a bit shocking and dark. The hopeful chorus of 'Future' was written before he died, and the verses were written after he died, and I like the way that song and the EP in general explores the different forms that hope takes on as you grow up."
Next comes a haunting cover of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street," from his album So. The vocals come in at almost a whisper and persist through the rest of the song, crooning "Dreaming of mercy…" between heavy drum hits on the second beat of each measure. The EP ends with an upbeat tune, "Leaving Me Behind," which features somber lyrics but somehow leaves the listener with a sense of comfort and finality.
This is precisely what makes Banfi a standout in the genre of indie pop-rock music. They have a way of addressing heartbreak in a relatable manner and not oversaturating the delivery with melodrama – a quality that makes listening through that much more authentic. They expertly balance both the darkness and light that dance across the spectrum of human emotion, which is a difficult task to achieve. Fair warning before giving The Jack Powell EP an exclusive listen here, there is a high chance that you will contemplate texting your exes. Plan accordingly.
Banfi is currently touring through Europe–catch them live in the UK this March here.