Sep 17, 2015 Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
Vampire Weekend long ago embraced fame when its members became recognizable by their own names. Ezra Koenig is a present day indie icon, Rostam Batmanglij works in the not-so-dim shadows of other bands' songs, and Chris Tomson's charismatic drumming earns him a spotlight. Bassist Chris Baio, by default, becomes the forgotten one. The Names is his attempt to change that.
Compared to Koenig and Co., Baio is in his own groove, but in the realm of electronica, he's barely floating by. Hooks and playful nudges that are built into his blood by now fill The Names, such as the staccato piano chords and bass vocal drops in "Sister of Pearl," but they smudge whatever distinctions he aimed for in "Needs" and "Matter," leaving a blur of electronic colors too bland to resonate after the fact.
Baio occasionally operates technology to his advantage. "All the Idiots" unfurls with meditative ambition over the course of seven minutes, thumping electronic-fed guitar lines through Gold Panda melodies, a combination that suggests he works best when unaware of the clock. That's what makes the album's opener and closer phenomenal standalone tracks. Looped guitar sews closer "Scarlett" together, piling on various synth layers and samples to mirror the crescendos of the album's strong opener (and strongest track), "Brainwash yyrr Face." But when bookended with its two best songs, a mediocre album cheapens its own design. Baio's debut relies on genre differences to stand out instead of solid songwriting itself, unfortunately letting his solo time predominantly go to waste. (www.baiobaio.com)
Author rating: 5.5/10
Average reader rating: 6/10
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