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REVIEW: David Bazan - Blanco

REVIEW: David Bazan - Blanco

By: Daniel Ward
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A review of the David Bazan album Blanco.

 

For those of you who don’t think David Bazan rings a bell: you know who he is. He was the voice and songwriting force behind Pedro the Lion. Remember Headphones? Bazan sang for that band too. In 2009 this Seattle based singer-songwriter dropped his first full-length solo record and hasn’t stopped since.

 

His newest LP, Blanco, trades the kit and electric guitars for a drum machine and a whole lot of synths. Surprisingly, it feels like and American take on British synthpop. Also, perhaps appropriately, since Bazan is now a family man of 40—lyrically the new record mostly forgoes issues of faith (or lack thereof) for those of family life.

 

From the moment “Both Hands” opens, it’s clear that this will be a different type of record. There are no acoustic instruments—no guitars, just synths and a drum machine. However, not unfamiliarly, the chorus carries a powerful hook. The music brings to mind The Postal Service’s 2003 classic, Give Up. However, on the goth-to-emo-synthpop spectrum, Bazan definitely veers to the former with Bazan’s deep vocals and the eerie synth tones.

 

“Oblivion” keeps the 80s vibe up. The synths are still subtle, but they add a ghostly atmosphere to Bazan’s mostly straightforward lyrics and songwriting style.

 

“Keep Secrets” brings an acoustic guitar into the mix, but it can’t brush off the electro feel.  “With You” verges towards electro goth, but Bazan can’t quite carry the stark vocal grit of Andrew Eldritch or the pulsing synth work of Berlin.

“Trouble with Boys” begins a deeper focus on the lyrical theme of family life. “Little Landslide” has a flowing acoustic guitar and lyrics that reference pensive alcoholic solitude.  “Someone Else’s Bet” touches on coming to terms with family resentment and bitterness.

 

“Teardrops” hits almost like a track from Ikon or another 90s goth revivalist. “Over Again” begins to wind down the record with what it’s had since the beginning: a lush atmosphere and Bazan’s soothing vocals.  “Little Motor” ends Blanco on perhaps its most triumphant and resilient note.  

 

Bazan should be given credit: he’s written a somewhat gothy synthpop record that is different from most of his previous work. He’s put together great songwriting and has dressed it up in beautiful synth voicings. Blanco is a beautiful and surprisingly unique work.

 

David Bazan - Blanco


Listen to a song by clicking on a title below:

Click to Play David Bazan - Kept Secrets

Click to Play David Bazan - Teardrops

Click to Play David Bazan - Blanco (Full Album)

 
 
 
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