Devendra Banhart - Ape in Pink Marble
Indie Folk / Lounge Pop
Ever since the expansive freak folk of his early work, particularly the seminal Cripple Crow and the bloated Smoky Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, Devendra Banhart has made a concerted effort to reign in some of his more eclectic tendencies. Ape in Pink Marble, like his previous album Mala, seems largely inconsequential upon first lesson, but it’s exactly this feeling of effortlessness that elevates his newest album towards the top of his discography. Deftly toeing two sides of his personality — melancholic folk troubadour with an acoustic guitar, and quirky indie pop frontman — Banhart has crafted a great record that feels lived in and comfortable but never complacent. The opening suite of sparse, primarily acoustic numbers transitions into a stretch of loungey, chillbeat pop music, including the excellent Fancy Man and the funky Fig In Leather. There are echoes of the kind of indie folk the Kings of Convenience excel at in tracks such as album highlight Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green (which makes great use of a smooth bossa nova backbeat), but Banhart’s personality, as always, shines through the whole thing like a beacon.