(Shayla Manning / Journal Staff)

Shayla Manning / Journal Staff

Habibi transforms Great Scott into a ‘60’s psych rock paradise

April 24, 2019

Brooklyn-based band Habibi brought their energetic and feminist driven surf rock to Great Scott last Tuesday night for their first time in Boston since 2012.

The group of five crept up the dark little stage nestled in the corner of Allston with an effortless attitude about them, yet they manifested a very intentional energy.

Iranian-American lead singer Rahill Jamalifard and guitarist Lenaya “Lenny” Lynch formed the band back in 2011 in Detroit, sharing a love for ‘60s girl group harmonies and psychedelic rock. “Habibi” translates to “my love” in Arabic, and reflects the Middle-Eastern roots the band possesses because of Jamalifard’s connection to her heritage. Incorporating Farsi, the native tongue of her mother, into the band’s lyrics, Jamalifard has utilized the band’s willingness to play the music of Iranian culture through her vocals and the use of traditional Middle-Eastern instruments.

The audience was hurdled back to the ‘60s with Habibi’s overwhelmingly surf-guitar presence on tracks like “Sweetest Talk” and “I Got The Moves.” Through their tight vocal harmonies and quickly paced instrumental work, the quintet defies the limits of every genre they can be categorized in. Their stress on incorporating Middle-Eastern cultural elements sharpens their edge even more.

They also played “Nedayeh Bahar,” a track in which Jamalifard fuses English and Farsi lyrics, backed by confident surf-rock guitars. The intimate crowd was engulfed in the cultural identity Habibi possessed within their songs.

“The path you’re on is not foreseen, something else might come to be. Don’t look back, it’s misery. Time won’t take what’s yours to keep,” Jamalifard sang slowly and smoothly into the mic. While some songs carried a meditative and mysterious mood like this, others were much more upbeat and pop-heavy.

“It’s been a minute since we put out an album, sorry about that,” said Lynch during their set. Habibi’s 2013 self-titled album was their first and only one released to date, a collection of garage rock, infectious melodies and Western guitar riffs.  After the release of their 2018 EP “Cardamom Garden,” it’s been a waiting game to see when the band would launch themselves back into creating music.

Lynch discussed the release of their upcoming album and the reunion of Habibi in an interview with The Suffolk Journal.

“Last year we came out with our EP, then we started working on the new album, so it was just a natural progression of things,” said Lynch. “I think in New York time, everything just takes a lot of time too, because you don’t have money to complete things.”

Shayla Manning / Journal Staff

Lynch and Jamalifard both had other bands they were working with during their time off from Habibi, but always knew they would return to it.

“It’s also hard to have two different projects anyway,” said Lynch in an interview with The Journal. “So, I think now that we did that, and put out two albums with our respective other bands, we realized it was time to go back home to Habibi.”

Lynch added that the style of the new album is the same format of their first, with rock and Middle Eastern elements still very much present.

During the set, Habibi focused mostly on their hit tracks, like “Let Me In” and “Tomboy.” They also featured some work off the new album, which Lynch told the Journal is going to be titled “Anywhere But Here.”

“It’s a blend of the first album and the EP,” said Lynch. “Also, in this day and age, I think without trying, it leans towards a darker sound than before.”

With the use of professional studio time, Lynch said the band was able to advance the production of the album further, utilizing synth and electric sitar to craft the individual sound they were searching for on their return back to the music scene.

Habibi closed out their set with the dark yet still groovy hit “Siin” off their first album. They are expected to be touring even more after the new album arrives, which has no release date yet.

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