Barbudo’s “Secret Admirer” Is a Satisfying 70’s Psych-Out

by guest contributor Dana Silverman

When I saw the opening minute of Barbudo’s “Secret Admirer” video, I wanted to roll my eyes. The washed-out film look, singer Harry Stantworth’s David Cassidy hairdo, the early-model Sony Walkman–all bad omens of another throwback band that doesn’t live up to their inspirations.

Then that guitar riff begins, and it threatens to take over you brain for the rest of the day. Five full minutes go by in what feels like half the time as you hear everything you’ve forgotten that was musically ingenious about the 1960’s and 1970’s–the chorus that somehow packs tons of energy and feeling into less than seven words, the bass break that comes in to slow things down before the song gathers speed for a rockin’ outro, as well as the trebly guitar, subtle keyboards, and countless other small musical textures, which summon the idyllic haze of the Woodstock years without sounding dated.

Okay, Harry Stantworth. I can forgive that 1970’s haircut. Barbudo, comprised of Stantworth, brother Ben on bass, and Elliot Salter on drums, are reportedly influenced by Motown and Steely Dan, but the UK trio would sound right at home on a playlist with War and The Guess Who. That’s not to pigeonhole them–the songwriting craftsmanship and musical production on display gives “Secret Admirer” far more staying power than a Sony Walkman, and the band’s winking acknowledgment of their influences on video turns out to be modern enough after all.

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