Album: Devendra Banhart

Nino Rojo, XL
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The Independent Culture

Two albums in less than six months may be overestimating the appeal of Devendra Banhart's whimsical warblings. Although both albums were recorded at the same sessions, Banhart himself characterises his debut Rejoicing in the Hands as the mother/observer, with Nino Rojo as the son/participant, its songs presumably driven by a more engaged spirit. The most noticeable difference is in the arrangements, which are more expansive than the mostly solo guitar settings of his debut: the self-consciously corny horns on the coda to "We All Know", and the sluggish piano and percussion of "Noah" and "Be Kind", help to give his songs more of an individual character. What's not noticeably changed is Banhart's lyrical style, which teeters cavalierly on the cusp of surreal nonsense. There's a peculiarly heightened sense of bodily self-awareness, with lines such as "All my fingers ran off and I just couldn't follow them", confirming his reputation as a fabulist. Certainly, his appetite for fables seems un

Two albums in less than six months may be overestimating the appeal of Devendra Banhart's whimsical warblings. Although both albums were recorded at the same sessions, Banhart himself characterises his debut Rejoicing in the Hands as the mother/observer, with Nino Rojo as the son/participant, its songs presumably driven by a more engaged spirit. The most noticeable difference is in the arrangements, which are more expansive than the mostly solo guitar settings of his debut: the self-consciously corny horns on the coda to "We All Know", and the sluggish piano and percussion of "Noah" and "Be Kind", help to give his songs more of an individual character. What's not noticeably changed is Banhart's lyrical style, which teeters cavalierly on the cusp of surreal nonsense. There's a peculiarly heightened sense of bodily self-awareness, with lines such as "All my fingers ran off and I just couldn't follow them", confirming his reputation as a fabulist. Certainly, his appetite for fables seems undiminished here in the anthropomorphic animal crackers of songs like "Little Yellow Spider", where, alongside a menagerie of spider, monkey, crab, turtle, albatross and squid, there's a sexy pig who "made it with a man, and now you got a little kid with hooves instead of hands".

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