Devendra Banhart – Cripple Crow review

Link: Devendra Banhart

The Inside Pulse:
Click on the link above and check out this guys’ bio. Do it. Come back and tell me if it makes any sort of sense. I’ve heard some odd bio’s from rock stars before (Wolf Parade’s is especially amusing) but this one simply doesn’t construct itself with logic used from this universe.

I don’t buy it, personally. This whole persona Devendra has. His whole hype. His deal, if you will. I’ve heard that people are crazy in love with this album and from that him and his ideologies. I think he’s a bloody hippie and the only hippies I appreciate, ironically or not, are the Flaming Lips. And sometimes the Polyphonic Spree. But that’s it. There’s no more room for this guy who, unless he’s cleverer than all of us, is being completely genuine about what he’s preaching.

But it’s one thing to be bothered by the guy, it’s something completely different to hate this album. And I don’t, really. It’s soft, brittle, and in some places kind of chewy. Mostly, however, it’s nice. Really, really nice. And just like most things that are nice, parts of it are acceptable but mostly it just makes me angry.

Most of the songs that chime in under three minutes are tiny little jems of mostly-acoustic ballad writing. Anyone who appreciates soft folky stuff will dig them, especially “I Love That Man” and “Anchor”. Both of these songs are really pretty, and there aren’t flaws in them if you take Devendra as someone singing about small moments in love.

As well, if you like Spanish, some of these are sung completely in it. I don’t know any myself, and mostly I found these to be the kind of songs that belonged in an Antonio Banderas movie moments before he turns his guitar case into a deadly weapon.

Any song that goes over three minutes. This sort of I-care-really schtick is only good in short gasps. When the songs are over really quickly it sounds like Devendra is grasping at drops of sweat off a lover. When given time he sounds like a bit of a pretentious ass. This is apparent mostly on “I feel just like a child”, a song about being helpless (and his mom’s breasts), also has the most left-wing pandering. Now, I’m all for political songwriting, but when it’s as lazy as “I need you to explain the war”, it’s best left to professionals.

Also, “Chinese Children” is all sorts of weird that I’m not going near with any length of stick.

Mix the quietest moments of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 with a warbling opera singer from the 30’s.

Reason To Buy:
Buy this album if you have a deep appreciation for quasi-Spanish folk music. Or if everyone in the indie scene is suddenly into him and you have to be, too. Either way, he wins.

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