There’s a beautiful weariness to Bartees Strange’s music. It’s impressive when a singer can make a simple statement like “We should go to Toronto more often” sound so moving. That line lives in the song “Heavy Heart”, which opens Strange’s sophomore album Farm to Table, a strong slice of indie rock that has the artist taking a deeper look at things both within and around himself as his career continues to take off.
The rock artist has had an impressive trajectory since his debut album Live Forever in 2020, which received critical praise and landed him on tours alongside other artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Courtney Barnett, and more. He even shouts out Bridgers and Barnett on the auto-tuned R&B song “Cosigns”, a toast to his achievements in the last two years. But Strange isn’t interested in bragging, as the song also highlights the the deep dissatisfaction that comes from many wins. “Hungry as ever, it’s never enough,” he yells as the song blares louder and louder in its conclusion. It’s these moments that make Farm to Table, and Strange’s music in general, so engrossing. It pacts an emotional punch without ever feeling like its lost in darkness.
Strength lies in Strange’s flexibility too, as the album takes on different forms of music beyond its indie rock sound. Standout song “Wretched” harnesses frantic synth pop, while slower acoustic ballads like “Tours” and “Hennessy” showcase just how powerful his vocals can get. Farm to Table is a strong, impressive piece of rock that shows how good Bartees Strange is at what he does, especially within the unique musical genre he’s created for himself. While listening, you know that he can only go up from here.