reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
You can take the man out of the psychotherapy profession, but you can’t take the understanding of how the human psyche works out of the man. Give him a penchant for pop-rock tunes, and you’ve got Patrick Beedling of Barbarosa. On the Toronto four-piece’s latest album, Eye of the Rabbit, the band embraces the mind in all its tenacity, its wealth of impulses and emotive capabilities.
The album opens like candy, sweet and so catchy that you wish it didn’t end, but it has to end, that’s what makes “Seducer’s Diary” so gratifying. Just as you miss the summery warmth and childhood rhymes of the track, Barbarosa proceeds with tapping drums into first single “Molly and Her Friends”. While an organ and rapid-fire lyrics keep the 90s pre-club pop sense going, the lyrics hit at the heart of songwriter Patrick Beedling’s talents: a look into identity fragmentation after trauma and the incredibility of human resilience. Beedling would know, after all.
Alongside cerebral understanding, saccharine melodies are the heart of Eye of the Rabbit. Every track is an ear worm, a pleasing listen all the way through, so much so that you could miss the intelligence behind the lyrics and get lost in the flow. By the time Calum Beedling’s pervasive piano of “These Lanes” weaves its way through your ears and into your brain, you feel indulgent, as though these emotions are being gifted, imparted on you and left to pulse within your blood.
A heavier — but no less catchy — approach is taken to “Mercy Me, Prosperity”. A Spanish flair builds the bridge of the track, adding something new amidst the fuzzy whir of electric guitar melody, but here the lyrics hit hardest. “‘Cause you’re so hell bent on consuming the inhuman in everybody else,” Beedling accuses, and it stings.
It is the careful majesty of “Molly and Her Friends” and “Mercy Me, Prosperity” that undermines tracks like “Christian”, which feels like it scraps that delicacy in favour of dramatic lines and a Gordon Lightfoot-esque vocal opening. “Tigerdance” pulls back from introspection and instead fulfills rock genre expectations. Aside from a radial guitar solo, Jonny Smith’s drums — which elsewhere are nuanced and astute — and Beedling’s vocals fill the space more than explore it.
Patrick Beedling might be the mastermind behind the tune-crafters, carrying the project forward through multiple band lineups, but each element finds time to shine on Eye of the Rabbit, creating a cohesively addicting album. It’s almost as though they know how to really get inside the human mind and remain there.
Top Tracks: “Seducer’s Diary”, “Molly and Her Friends”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)