Bartees Strange (US) at Haldern Pop Bar
“Tie me up.”
This is the ultimatum that closes “Mustang,” a fiery post-punk synth-rock sprint and the second track on Live Forever, the full-length debut record from D.C.-based musician and singer Bartees Strange. The dare — “Tie me up” — ties back to the title of the song, and the place Strange grew up: Mustang, Oklahoma, an overwhelmingly white and racist sundown town on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. In Mustang, he says, “I didn’t let myself be seen. I held myself down so I could make people feel more comfortable around me.” On his new record, Strange has ground that former conviction to dust, and replaced it with a new one: “‘Just tie me up.’ I’d rather die than not be myself again.”
Live Forever is a direct and stunning result of this conviction. It’s impossible to divorce the reality of Strange’s personal trajectory from the intricate and idiosyncratic 13-track saga on record: it spans gentle, Moses Sumney-meets-Yves Jarvis minimalism, Killers-ish indie rock vigor with post-punk cracks in its danceable veneer, the throbbing industrial alt-soul of Algiers, Justin Vernon’s acoustic tenderness, and the volatile, unforgiving production and delivery of Death Grips. Simply put, it is a combination that none but Strange could execute under — and as a result of — precise circumstances.
Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien