FFWD REW

Devendra Banhart – What Will We Be

Warner

“Play it goofy or play it cool” sings Devendra Banhart on “Baby” one of the flagship songs on his sixth album What Will We Be . And for the first time in his career Banhart is able to balance the goofy and the cool in perfect harmony. Much of What Will We Be finds the freak-folk hero leaving the freak behind in favour of more straightforward songwriting. He still allows himself plenty of room for exploration — both “Angelika” and “Chin Chin Muck Muck” start beautifully before taking abrupt turns. The difference this time around is that even those mid-song asides are delightfully tuneful.

Still as can be expected from Banhart not every choice works quite as well. Most of the album channels the best of Cat Stevens until “Rats” on which a poor man’s Led Zeppelin comes from out of nowhere. It’s frustrating to be sure but not as frustrating as Banhart’s usual dance with brilliance. He’s getting closer and closer to making a classic.

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