Off their 2013 self-titled album, the track “Bar”, San Fermin provides an unconventional arrangement of saxophone, piano, strings and backup vocals, and half time hi hat sequences; this is delivered in a meal for the ears to devour. “Bar” sounds like a song The National would make if they took more leaps in production. The pace of the song takes the listener on a roller coaster, a really noisy rollercoaster.
The song starts off with disembodied voices before an unexpected saxophone and drums attack. Then the listener buckles up because the ride has begun. “and the man behind the counter, says he says he likes to see you wasted, on the young” the non-linear rambling lyrics paint a static picture of a bar, while the instruments paint the feelings of the highs and lows that come with a night of intoxication.
Though the song is alternative to the point where it would not achieve the radio play their single “Sonsick” achieved, the pop danceability remains. The ways in which the musical components come alive and overlap in “Bar” seems like an experiment gone incredibly right.
The orchestral string and horn arrangements are more advanced than what is typical for debut pop albums. But this shows an approach to pop music, that albeit alternative, would be better described as adventurous. And shows possibility to stretch the mould of what pop music can be. There is a catchiness and conviction in sound that San Fermin has in “Bar”, and “Sonsick”, but perhaps not every song on the album. This does show gusto on the bands part, for being willing to try something new.