February 7, 2014

LP: Habibi - Habibi

Let Habibi warm your cold heart with their sugary, yet surprising, tunes.

The Arabic word "Habibi" translates to "my beloved" or "my love." The term of affection is perfect for the sweet Brooklyn fourpiece of the same name. The first fews songs on the band's self-titled debut sound like garage-pop takes on classic girl group ditties, but Habibi has created their own distinct identity without a Phil Spector figure. The second song, "I Got the Moves," is almost frustratingly catchy. It's impossible not to dance with the narrator, who coyly shrugs off her dance partner with the vague promise of "next time." "I Got the Moves" and "Detroit Baby" are full of mowtown-esque background harmonies, little repetitive chants, and "hey hey heys."

Around the middle of the album, Habibi becomes mysterious. Their sound grows darker and deeper, while retaining the catchy harmonies of earlier songs. It's as if half the songs on the album are for the day and the other half are for night. "Siin" is even set in the evening, the perfect time for seduction. The song feels dangerous, due in part to the combination of vocalist Rahill Jamalifard's smoldering drawl and apprehensive lyrics like "He's gonna hurt me slow / Oh I know." "Persepolis" is a strikingly hypnotic surfy song on an album that could quickly be passed off as bubblegum pop. The song, which Jamalifard wrote before Habibi formed, reflects the influence of her ancestry on the band: "Iran, gypsies, nomads, the inspiration of poets like Hafiz, Saadi, and Rumi, my travels within the country, its people, the culture, and the music I grew up listening to." The gradual build in the final track, "Wrong To the Right People," summarizes Habibi's ability to transform their rhythm - Habibi, like their debut, are unpredictably multi-faceted.

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Habibi is now available to purchase from Burger Records.

Written by Quinn Moreland