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bar italia, 'Nurse!'

What a blessing, to not be perceived. Or, at least, what a blessing it is to coolly cultivate some shred of unknowability in a digital economy that demands a recounting of your every thought (lest people forget you exist!). The U.K. rock band bar italia understands the value of unknowability, however fleeting — finding in-depth information on its members or its artistic approach is a fool's errand. The band's Instagram page is a handful of blurry point-and-shoot photos and graphics announcing live performances around Europe that look like they were hastily designed in Microsoft Paint. It certainly doesn't help that the band's first two albums were released by World Music Group, the avant-garde label of rapper Dean Blunt, an artist who tends to err on the side of cryptic.

But the group's latest single "Nurse!" and a newly announced signing to Matador suggest bar italia won't revel in its quickly shrinking obscurity for much longer. The trio, made up of Nina Cristante, Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton, all Blunt collaborators, has taken a page from the rapper's gloomy, irreverent and shapeshifting artistic playbook with a sound here that pulls the ear close in a swirl of whispery vocals, opaque poetry and tight, art-rock instrumentals that remind me of Blonde Redhead's more blissed-out moments. If, in a few months, we find out bar italia is some tossed-off, big-brained performance art project, I won't be surprised. But it's a seductive performance to be drawn into all the same.

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Hazel Cills
Hazel Cills is an editor at NPR Music, where she edits breaking music news, reviews, essays and interviews. Before coming to NPR in 2021, Hazel was a culture reporter at Jezebel, where she wrote about music and popular culture. She was also a writer for MTV News and a founding staff writer for the teen publication Rookie magazine.