David Bazan – Blanco

“If I’m not losing sleep, I’m probably over it,proclaims indie rock crooner David Bazan in the opening lines of his third solo album Blanco. 

Bazan has spent the last few years playing living room shows across America, performing songs from his extensive back catalogue. Finally, he stopped touring and recorded Blanco, a reflection of his life on tour.

Bazan has a reputation for being cynical in his perspectives, but he emerges with beautiful insights only the most observant find. As the lead singer of the now defunct indie rock band Pedro the Lion, Bazan candidly touched on topics of God, alcoholism, death, political corruption, infidelity, and eventually losing faith in God. His lyrics echo sentiments with a level of intimacy that is relatable on a profound level.

In Blanco, Bazan is reaching an existential crisis.

In the whimsical first track “Both Hands” Bazan repeats “both hands over my eyes” in the chorus, an avoidance mechanism we are all familiar with. He laments his heavy thoughts, but sets them aside to deal with the issues right in front of him. His distorted vocals accompanied with the hypnotic synthesizers construct a formula that sets the tone for the rest of the record.

The second track “Oblivion” mirrors the notion of avoidance. Over a quirky keyboard melody and provocative drum sample, Bazan says that “now is not the time for second thoughts” as he reflects on the man he has been.

Blanco sets itself apart from the usual Bazan fare. Opposed to distorted guitars and down tempo melodies, Bazan set out to make his version of an electronic record. Synthesizers, memorizing choruses, drum samples, and reverb-y vocals make up Blanco, and it is a refreshing change of pace.

The instrumental counterparts of “With You” are reminiscent of a 1980s new wave single, but don’t let the upbeat inflection fool you. “I might have found someone true/ But I turn around/ my life’s half over/ And I’m with you.” When I listen to this song I interpret it as a love song, regardless of the unfavorable imagery. That despite your flaws, I’m with you. Bazan’s unconventional flare for romanticizing the weaknesses of relationships are an example of his craftsmanship as a lyrcisist.

Reverting back to his acoustic roots “Little Landslide” is a thoughtful song about reflection. “Over Again” depicts the repetition of everyday life and the notion of being stuck. Despite the powerful lyrics, unfortunately the song falls flat.

The dreamy closing track “Little Motor” ends things on a triumphant note, “every day you wake up alive/ little motor behind your eyes”  it’s the understanding that life goes on.

Bazan has proven himself a master storyteller through his songs, and he continues to do so in Blanco. The album is reflective and requires a patient ear, but the payoff makes it worth while.

Blanco: B+

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