Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review: Devendra Banhart - What Will We Be

The biggest problem I had Banhart's past release Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon was it was a very creative album, yet was swallowed up in this careless echoey production. It lacked focus, and direction. With his 2009 release of What Will We Be has has done completely the opposite. This album is more concentrated than Smokey however now it lacks the creative side. Out of fourteen tracks, there are only about seven keepers here. The rest of the album is filled with throwaway songs. The last four songs of the album are some of the most boring work he's ever done.
  That is not to say this is a terrible album. There is some great stuff on here. The first half of "Angelika" harkens back to the Devendra of the Nino Rojo years, while the second half transforms into a spanish-tongued salsa. "Rats" is one the most epic songs he has created, it should be considered a cousin of "Seahorse" for they share a similar stoner-rock Black Sabbath guitar riff.
   The thing that annoys me the most about this release and Thunder Canyon is to me it seems that Banhart is so wrapped up in this free love lackadaisical hippie shit that it makes his albums seem half-baked. The main theme of What Will We Be seems to be "We don't know what we're doing, but boy are we having fun!" Devendra Banhart is an extremely talented artist and has created some absolutely tremendous music, Cripple Crow was the pinnacle of this freak-folk movement. Songs like "I Feel Like A Child" had the loose experimentation that he enjoys, yet they were focused impassioned and exciting. I just hope that on his next release Banhart will re-listen to his earlier work, and learn what he is in fact capable of.

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