While the bass lines are certainly strong on this latest record from Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio, its definitely the melody that steals the show. While he moves his sound in more indulgent directions it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Opening a bubbling synth and trumpet riff, “Vin Mariani” shifts effortlessly from feeling to feeling. The cheesy harmonies work well in the feel Of The song making it easier to sing along. “The Key is Under the Mat” boasts the exact kind of throttling bass line you would expect from Baio he layers his quirky vocal lines on top without fear. The delightful bohemian hook and keyboard lines make this tight track one that begs for repeat listens.
The pounding keys and lo-fi percussion of “Out of Tune” drives it, allowing for more melodic experimentation on top. While the sense of fun is there, some of instrumentation just feels to lifeless at times, taking away from the joyous feel of the track. On the other side of this “PHILOSOPHY!” blends the electronics and instruments perfectly for a futuristic funk track with a groove. The rolling drum lines and Baio’s vocal interplay with himself makes for an exciting listen especially through the stereo-heavy organ climax.
“Exquisite Interlude” nails its gritty bass and drum groove, while his vocals lean into the cheese of the track perfectly, making the sax all the more fun.
Burning like an old sci-fi synth, the dark “DANGEROUS ANIMAL” carries a moody crawl to its fluttering electronics. A little long for its lack of variety, its atmosphere is no less intense by the end. “Man of the World” grabs ears from the start thanks to its addictive and exotic hook, mixing perfectly with its shaking beat. The syncopated rhythms make it really pop and the synths sound absolutely divine. It’s also worth noting the track’s Flight of the Conchords sound, working their mastery of sound and lightly cheeky hoons for some goofy fun.
Stomping drums and shining piano opens “Sensitive Guy” before a shrieking guitar provides its counter hook. His sense of melody feels feels as unique and strong as always, throwing vocal lines that work beautifully while feeling absolutely atypical. Flaoty beats and trumpet lay the skeleton of “I’m Not Curious” as the distant vocals add to the trippy feeling. Despite a sweeping chorus the song never hits its stride, always feeling a moment from its proper groove.
“Shame in My Name” takes a more hip hop-inspired beat and percussion, making its slow-burning synth feel a lot more natural and infectious. Thanks to a raucous EDM breakdown reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem he saves the repetitive second half of the track. Closing on the bass-driven “Be Mine,” he finds one last pop gem and polishes it well. Moving the keys and claps along in catchy ways he makes one last fun pop moment for the exploring album.
review by Owen Maxwell