Spearheading the fantastic DC punk outfit, Priests, Katie Alice Greer was a part of a collective that delivered some of the finest songs of the last decade. Priests delivered messages that felt humble, real, and vital. On their hallmark release, 2017’s Nothing Feels Natural, they were one of the cornerstones of new music.
While its follow-up, The Seduction of Kansas, fell short of the lofty heights Priests had reached with Nothing Feels Natural, the band still maintained their DIY ethos, consistently piling into the van and touring the world. The burnout cycle of write/ record/ tour may have been a key factor into the band’s eventual demise, however it was always going to be interesting where the members of Priests would land thereafter.
Now based in Los Angles, while Greer released a series covers throughout the COVID pandemic, including Bruce Springsteen’s 41 Shots, she emerges from the other side of lockdown with her debut solo offering, Barbarism.
A swift departure from the jagged battering of Priests, whether Greer has purposefully taken such a creative leap or whether this was always in her creative arsenal is merely a moot point. With members of established bands splintering off in a solo captivity only to sound like watered down versions of their previous selves, Greer is reinvigorated, conducting the sharpest of left-hand turns on Barbarism, and it’s all the better for it.
“My Love can’t be asked to dance, no feet in the street unseen by surveillance,” sings Greer on the opener, FITS/My Love Can’t Be. A dance-y sway riddled with shoegaze flange. It contains the kind of messages that are dotted all the way through Barbarism.
The tourism of sound continues on the dreamy abstract Talking In My Sleep and later on Flag Wave Pt. 2. Then there’s Fake Nostalgia where Greer takes a deep dive into the kind of themes that underpinned the Priests remit. Here, Greer reaches for the crates, with glitch-y tech-house-inspired beats proving a worthy undercurrent.
Meanwhile, Dreamt I Talk To Horses sees Greer smudging the canvass of simplicity. Distorted in delivery, it’s basically twee-pop on an acid trip. And speaking of, Flag Wave Pt. 1 is like a fictitious interpretation of Throbbing Gristle doing pop music.
The boundaries continue to stretch, as How Do I Know (PRING 5) takes its cue from the likes of HVOB. Appropriately dark in tone and heavy in mood, this Beth Gibbons-inspired cut is tailor-made for open fields and sunsets.
Which feeds into the majesty of the closing title track. With all of your worries left at the door, Greer takes us on a trip of ’90s nostalgia where club land and pop collide with a euphoric rush of hedonism.
Greer has never shied away from tackling capitalism and feminism, and while Priests delivered their message with raw urgency, on Barbarism Greer enters a surreal world, happily inviting her audience along for the ride. She’s bringing to life those same issues on Barbarism: the difference this time, however, is that she’s having a bit more fun delivering them.
Barbarism is out now via FourFour Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.