For an artist on the cusp, 2020 was a particularly tough year. Unable to gain momentum with live shows and meeting new fans, many probably felt hopeless or forgotten. Julia Bardo channeled those emotions into songs about loneliness and isolation, homesickness and heartache. Bauhaus, L’Appartamento finds Bardo fresh off an early 2020 EP, away from her native Italy in the UK, figuring herself out through melancholy guitar strums and full-throated Natalie Merchant-esque vocals. Shades of ’90s grunge and Lilith Fair play so nicely with grounded pop melodies in Bardo’s hands.
The songs on Bauhaus, L’Appartamento are thoughtful and never rushed. Bardo maintains a mellowness whether she’s professing her undying love, like in the bursting chorus of album opener “The Most,” or drowning in sorrow like in the sweetly sad notes of “In Your Eyes.” Bardo confronts the mental health struggles that come with feeling abandoned on the powerful “It’s Okay (To Not Be Okay),” and nearly succumbs to overwhelming self-doubt on the mid-tempo beauty “Love Out of Control.”
She rocks out on the slow build-up to the chorus of “No Feeling” and faces the fear of not living up to her full potential on the soft and strong standout “The Greatest.” The warped guitars create a textured contrast with Bardo’s dreamy vocals — and fuzzy Italian spoken-word interlude — on “Impossible,” and album closer “Goodbye Tomorrow” rings out with the promise of finding independence and a path toward self-assuredness.
Though Bardo is, in some ways, just getting started, her grasp for crafting not just a melody, but a feeling, is at the forefront of Bauhaus, L’Appartamento. The themes she’s exploring in her songwriting will resonate with so many, searching for that sweet spot at the crossroads of the comforts of home and the excitement of the unknown.