|Album Review: Bag Raiders - Horizons|
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It's the moment Bag Raiders fans have been waiting for—a follow-up album to the phenomenal and award-winning debut. Even though it's been nearly a decade since Bag Raiders released their self-titled album, the Australian electronic pop duo has still been satisfying fans with a handful of EPs and singles in the interim. Showing off a cooler and chilled outside as their discography builds, Bag Raiders has grown into their signature style of anthemic disco house and synth-pop. Their knack for writing solid pop and infectious melodies within tracks has earned the band millions of plays across streaming platforms as their fan-base grows.
Fresh off a sold-out national tour for Horizons, it's time to bask in the glory of the album in its entirety. Prior to the release date, Jack Glass and Chris Stracey of Bag Raiders shared the first taste of the new album with a track called "Lightning." It features vocals from fellow Australian artist The Kite String Tangle. The electric, freshly polished fusion of house, pop, and nu-disco perfectly shows off the irresistible energy that Bag Raiders can generate in a track. The Kite String Tangle's shimmering vocals complete the soaring wondrous quality of "Lightning" and makes for a more emotive dance floor killer.
Right from the triumphant start of the album's first track "Faraway," you know you're in for a treat. It eases in with tropical chord progressions, nature sounds, soft percussion, and uplifting vocal harmonies. Ultimately the track opens up into glowing positivity. Written specifically as an entry track for the album, Bag Raiders pulled samples from their travels around the world to incorporate in "Faraway." The ultimate goal was to make a track that embodied Glass and Stracey's real-world inspiration.
Moving forward, the lush grooves continue into "I Need You." This one was written about not having that person you need to keep you grounded and the sense of loss one can feel when that person isn't around. "This song represents that void, and also the desire to have it filled, to be reunited with that person." says Bag Raiders. Originally written on an acoustic guitar, the band wanted to keep that intimacy in the final version. The organic instrumentation along with the dreamy production, harmonies, and vocal layers help to play up that emotion that the band set out to achieve.
Bag Raiders worked with a handful of fellow Australians on Horizons including Panama, Mikey Kojak, and Jo Loewenthal of the band Tora, on top of The Kite String Tangle. Each of these artists bring elements to the table that help evoke a different, but much welcome side of Bag Raiders. The band's track "How Long" with Panama will have you leaving all of your emotions on the dance floor with its icy and spacious production. Tender melodies combined with Panama's billowing vocals float effortlessly above the crisp beats that will surely have you moving your feet.
The collaboration with Mickey Kojak is probably the most fun on the album. Titled "Wild At Heart," this one is meant to be an anthem of youth. Bag Raiders says that the song is about "being young, free and full of life and exuberance—feeling as though you have the whole world at your feet. It's less about love and relationships and more about the high of being young and untouchable." The upbeat, sugary melodies pair perfectly with Mickey Kojak's voice. Bag Raiders says that they imagined "a whole gang of kids singing the chorus" like letting out on the last day of school. "It's rude, loud and proud!" says the band.
"Back To Myself" also delivers a unique side of Bag Raiders. This collaboration with Jo Loewenthal of Tora really stands out with its billowing breakbeat and piano melodies. The different layers of instrumentation and vocals all come together so effortlessly. Despite the sharpness of the beats, the track is extremely soft and lush. "Because of traveling scheduling differences, however, we didn't actually get to sit in the studio together and start something from scratch," describes Bag Raiders. This track actually fuses two songs, one from each collaborator. They go on to say that the two songs "somehow came together in a way which to us, feels like they were meant to be together," which couldn't be more true. The result is an easy standout on the album.
A personal favorite on the album, "Medicine" features punchy, pulsating beats paired with moments of hypnotic, catchy vocals and lyrics. The contrast of darker and more open, lighter parts of the track come together beautifully in the different layers of synthesizers and effects. Bag Raiders describes, "We wanted the tune to grow and expand into a great vast open feeling of release, like when the medicine kicks in. Sort of melancholic euphoria." It makes for a great ride for the dance floor.
"Lazy" is an obvious and easy to relate to track, but not in a cheesy way. The soft, pillowed parts break into moments of funky grooves that can get you having some fun while you're being lazy in bed. It's meant to be a track about being lazy with your lover. The band says that they wanted to make a slow jam that sounded like a "mixture of a good time and a dream."
The album starts to wind down with the yacht rock-inspired "I'll Be Loving You." Echoed vocal harmonies are perfect for the electric production and textured rhythms. The track cruises along with such a heavy vibing energy, it just carries you off. Bag Raiders is good taking their listener on a journey. "Breakdown" does it too but it in a much more emotive and melancholy way when compared to the track right before it. "'Breakdown' is sort of a sad song about the breakdown of a relationship," says Bag Raiders. Its heartbreak is obvious, but there's also a sense of optimism in the music.
Similar in sound, Bag Raiders would say that "Anchor" could be considered the B-side to "Medicine." The band taps into their inner Prince in a way that sets it apart from its sister. The sexy, dusty echoes of melodies and vocals of "Anchor" create the perfect vibe, complete with tribal percussion and accents. Created during a late-night studio jam, this one very much has a late-night feel.
"In This Life" closes the album, and it brings that sort of finale energy. It's another triumphant song, similar to how the album opened, but this one more bittersweet. The only lyric of the track, "In this life I just wanted to love you," gets conveyed even throughout the melodies and open production style. Bag Raiders feels that it "tied up the record and leaves the window open for more to come." There's definitely a sensation in the track that compares to the feeling of looking out into the horizon.
It's a theme that runs throughout. The band says, "Horizons is representative of a journey. A constant journey maybe, because the horizon is something that you can't ever really reach… the closer you get to it, the further away it gets from you. It's something elusive." One thing to not be elusive with is Bag Raiders' Horizon. It's a much more mature and collected album when compared to the band's debut, but the Horizon's strengths are worth basking in. Enjoy this new journey with Bag Raiders below in its entirety.