Dylan’s Quick Pick of the Week: Devendra Banhart’s Mala

by on March 19, 2013

Posted in: Album Review, Folk, Music, Rock

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Artist: Devendra Banhart
Album: Mala
Record Label: Nonesuch
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Genre: Freak Folk
Grade: B+
RIYL: Joanna Newsom, Ariel Pink, Full-bearded men with a lot of soul

On his latest release, the one-time “Long Haired Child” sheds his crazy curls along with his affinity for the extreme. With snappy, silly love songs and lo-fi lullabies, Devendra takes a stripped-down approach to songwriting, and shapes a rich album out of little more than a trifecta of catchy guitar rifts, synth drum pads, and simplistic electronic instrumentation. While tracks like “Daniel” can feel flat and predictable, others pleasantly surprise: on the breezy break-up track, “Never Seen Such Good Things,” Banhart sounds smooth and sexy, but still keeps things real with lines like “If we ever make sweet love again/I’m sure that it will be quite disgusting”. For an artist who spent three albums as a freak folk figurehead and the next four trying to find a new stylistic home, paring down the extreme is as much of a creative risk as any, and here, it pays off.

Essential Tracks: “Für Hildegard von Bingen”, “Never Seen Such Good Things”, “Your Fine Petting Duck”