In Review: The Berries - 'Sci-Fi Racer'
Seattle’s Matt Berry is back under his pluralistic pseudonym of The Berries with ‘Sci-Fi Racer’, the follow up single to 2019’s debut full length Start All Over Again. It's somewhat of a cliché to say this song captures what you might call the 'Seattle Sound', but it does. It’s grunge-y, rough-around-the-edges and unapologetic in what it does and what it tries to achieve. At it’s heart, it’s a love letter to retro guitar music, combining elements of Americana and country rock with lo-fi production style to deliver a compact mini-rock anthem that wouldn’t sound out of place in a 70’s-set American road trip movie.
From the opening seconds, the tone is set with a wailing guitar riff. The tempo is fast, the instrumentation if loud and fuzzy, and the groove is infectious. Berry’s vocals bring to mind the B-Town indie stylings of the mid-teen years – there’s a lack of refinement and an unbridled emotion in the vocal delivery. You can almost hear the head banging as the vocals shake and shimmer through the verses, leading to a fast-paced, frenetic guitar solo.
The song is structured in a peculiar way – there isn’t really a chorus as much as there are 2 verses, 2 guitar solos and a bridge. It certainly gives an odyssean atmosphere to the tune, but the huge amount of riff-led build-up in the verses never quite feels rewarded, as though the thundering vocal hook that has been promised just never arrives. The bridge resets into an almost choral vocal delivery as the song’s title makes an elusive appearance before the swaggering drums are reintroduced. Once again, this feels like a build up that never quite pays off despite the energy of the ending salvo.
Whilst 'Sci-Fi Racer may not convert any new fans to its brand of country-indie rock swagger, it does offer a take on it that is rarely seen today, despite the scene’s current focus on utilising retro vibes and older generic influences.