There’s something almost Beatles-esque about the way that “Anything” from Justice Now unfolds, and yet there’s not a moment of the song that features Barista sounding like a deliberate throwback here. To embody the basics of pop-rock without outright replication can be one of the more difficult tasks a contemporary act faces in 2022, but for Barista, it sounds all too simple in the eleven songs contained within the new LP Justice Now, which is justifiably being called one of the smarter albums of it’s kind to debut in the last year or so.

“Anything” isn’t the lone beacon of pop influence over this record but in fact one of several that are quite fetching to enjoy. “The Night Train” gets us started with an almost Foo Fighters-style harmony encased in tumultuous heavy rock tones, while “Justice Now” and “Bitch” take the concept even further into progressive territories some would be too intimidated to explore. Barista has a lot of confidence in this piece, but with the situational awareness they’re demonstrating, it makes a lot of sense why. Not many rockers can control the tempo and the final depth this well, but for those who can’t, this is a good example of how to do as much without sounding overbearing in the studio (which has become an all too common occurrence with a lot of the music I review).

The beat doesn’t need to be overstated in the likes of “Billions,” “Blues Before Sunrise,” or “Breath,” and personally I think it made more sense to go with something minimalistic instead. With as much power as the melodic end of the mix is pushing out, there’s no need for a crashing percussive force to keep things in line here; we’ve got as much physicality as we need coming from the guitar parts alone, thus making anything additional sound pretty indulgent in the grander scheme of things.

I couldn’t find a spot of plasticized audio in this record even after repeated listening sessions, and being that almost every rock LP is saturated in some level of synthetics these days, I think this is a pretty significant element to consider. Not only does Barista have no interest in filler, but their formula produces efficiency even amidst a rather decadent sonic makeup in the mix. That’s not as common as it should be in rock music right now, but with the success they gain here, that could easily change in the future.

With some increased friction in the underground and insurgent acts like this one starting to get attention well beyond the college radio spectrum in the past few years, I think there’s a lot for real rockers to be excited about as the 2020s continue to take shape, and Barista is one of the units worth really respecting at the moment. They’ve got a lot of push in this performance and people are starting to notice, which is going to help propel Justice Now out of obscurity and into the mainstream spotlight it deserves to be getting this time of year.

Garth Thomas