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Album Review: Devendra Banhart - Mala

Album Review: Devendra Banhart - Mala

The multi-talented Venezuelan American singer Devendra Banhart has dropped his eighth album, Mala, whose eclectic tunes diffuse a laid-back indie rock sound. Although happily engaged, the singer delivers varied tracks with a generally bittersweet outlook on love.

The soothing “Daniel” kicks off with gentle vocals and a French bistro-lounge vibe, followed by the dreamy, airy tribute to 12th century German nun Hildegard von Bingen… who turns VJ. “Never Seen Such Good Things” packs the album’s funniest couplet, as the Spanish-sung “Mi Negrita” adds some Latin flavor to the mix. Banhart duets with fiancée Ana Kraš in the multi-layered, ironically semi-cruel track “Your Fine Petting Duck,” which eventually transitions to a Pop-based number complete with German lyrics. Yet even his shorter pieces intrigue, as seen via the beautiful instrumental interlude “The Ballad of Keenan Milton” and the lyrically bleak “A Gain.” While “Won’t You Come Over” and “Hatchet Wound” figure as decent romantic jams, the one that easily takes the cake is the breathtakingly hypnotizing “Won’t You Come Home.” Nevertheless, the album closes on a somber note, with Banhart chanting “I can’t keep myself from evil” in the creepy “Taurobolium.”

Neither sappy nor excessively eccentric, Mala faithfully entails genre-defying experimentation and signature dose of quirkiness that fans will eat right up. - Natacha Pavlov

Published: March 15, 2013 |

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