Words by Audra Tracy
Devendra Banhart has always been an artist that I want to like, even if his discography was a little too weird for my taste. I’ll admit I was first was turned on because he looks like a freaky San Francisco flower child – a gypsy Jesus Christ if you will. He’s like the hardcore hippie that I’ve always wanted to be, but was too materialistic to fully manifest.
While his last record Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon took a few spins to really ‘get’, his latest release What Will We Be seems to be his most accessible record yet. Now I can finally stop trying to like the guy and actually start genuinely enjoying his brand of free-lovin’ folk.
It’s tough to pinpoint a particular theme here – he goes from channeling Jim Morrison (‘Rats’) to singing en espanol (‘Brindo’) to straight up glam rocking (‘16th & Valencia Roxy Music’), yet it’s the most coherent collection I’ve heard from Banhart thus far.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – the dude is still weird. He’s got a song called ‘Chin Chin and Muck Muck’ where he claims “we’re elegant lawn chairs” and promises to “braid exotic birds in your hair”. But it sure sounds like he’s having fun, and maybe we should all get in on the party. Because as Banhart so warmly declares, “love is light ignited/and everyone’s invited”.
“What Will We Be”
Warner Brothers Records
© October 27th, 2009
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