Release Date: May 13, 2016
Record label: Barsuk
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Over the last few years, rather than recording a full-length, traveling troubadour David Bazan casually released new songs on a seven-inch series called Bazan Monthly. Instead of stepping into a studio, he went from house to house across America to perform acoustic versions of his back catalogue during what have become know as his "living room shows. " After disappearing in his van somewhere along the I-90, he resurfaced when Barsuk Records announced a new Bazan LP slated for release in May, and though it's comprised of the Bazan Monthly tracks, it's not as disappointing as it sounds.
David Bazan has lived many lives. Depending on the listener’s entry point, he can be an entirely different person. There’s the faithful doubter on the early Pedro The Lion records, struggling with his faith up until the band’s final record, 2004’s Achilles Heel. Then there’s his solo work, fraught with his newfound agnosticism.
Blanco, the third solo album from indie rock wayfarer David Bazan, finds the singer working from home in a mindset of deep personal introspection. Comprised of tracks from his Bazan Monthly 7" series that he and collaborator Yuuki Matthews launched in 2014, the intimate home-recorded affair is a largely guitar-less pastiche of experimental synth pop and programmed beats that mostly recall his 2005 side project Headphones. Rather than the ragged-voiced, six-string troubadour logging miles on the D.I.Y.
For his third full-length solo release David Bazan has culled the 10 best cuts from the extremely limited 7” singles series named Bazan Monthly. The intention? To create a cohesive album that sings from end to end. One would expect nothing less from Bazan, especially after the highly-regarded Curse Your Branches and Strange Negotiations. But Blanco is not those albums.
David Bazan has used synthesizers before, most prominently on his 2005 as Headphones, but never as luxuriantly as here. The Headphones record sounds buzzily lo-fi and minimal – think Casiotone for the Painfully Alone or Vex Ruffin. Blanco, on the other hand, is lush with disco hedonism and new wave glossiness. There’s some chatter online about the influence of Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin, but I’d say the Cure, the Pet Shop Boys, even Depeche Mode are more relevant.