Avi Buffalo: At Best Cuckold (Sub Pop) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 29th, 2020  

Avi Buffalo

At Best Cuckold

Sub Pop

Sep 08, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg and crew finally follow up the precocious pop of 2010's eponymous Avi Buffalo with a sophomore effort, having spent some time in the hallowed indie halls of John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio to craft a new batch of tunes. On first spin, fans will notice a certain restraint: Zahner-Isenberg's brash and nervous falsetto is roped in, a little more breathy and deliberate, his guitar-centric indie-pop a little more conscious of itself. The arrangements are layered and purposeful, and the overall feel is more often pensive than manic or nail-biting.      

"So What" opens it up breezily, Zahner-Isenberg's vocals recalling Earlimart's Aaron Espinoza or Elliott Smith's soothing higher register. That sort of indie songcraft is a clear pedigree for these songs, but they aren't without a few historic notes"Overwhelmed with Pride" glows with the earnestness and grandeur of CSNY (accent on the Y) or other vintage faves. Actually, those Neil Young flavors pop up a lot, as on bittersweet closer "Won't Be Around No More," itself an echo of a younger, slightly less world-weary Younga kind of burning ember awash in his own dark thoughts and warm fuzz guitars. 

But then Zahner-Isenberg isn't exactly brooding, and he hasn't left behind that penchant for clowning around, with a few expected lyrical double-takes here and there ("Hello sweet pee/My boner pressed/Up to your chest" on "Memories of You" is a particularly turgid example).

But more often than not, he's bringing things down to earth here, as with his simple plea of "come back to me" on slow burner "Can't Be Too Responsible" (for just one example). Every review last time around mentioned the band's high-school ages. This time they'll all inevitably harp on that restless passage into adult life. What we lose is some of that unhinged spirit that so impishly drove tunes like "What's In It For" or "Jessica." What we gain: more exploratory songwriting, some melancholy indulgence, some added guitar and arrangement chops, and a healthy dose of life. That last one really sneaks up on you. (www.avibuffalomusic.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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