If you don’t yet know, I’m really obsessed with Devendra Banhart. I briefly hint to him on the music show I picked out songs for (which if you haven’t listened to: what are you doing?! Episode 115.5), I email Zach anytime new news comes up concerning him, and I’ve got a tattoo dedicated to the man and his music. That’s musical love, right there. So the announcement of his much anticipated new album Mala to debut March 12th is a really big deal for me.
Can we just talk about how beautiful he is for a second?
This is Devendra’s eighth studio album and first since 2009’s underwhelming What Will We Be. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy “Rats” and “Maria Lionza”… but they had to grow on me. The fact that the album was released on Warner Brothers seems to have crushed a lot of the whimsy that comes with Devendra’s music. Even the album before that, 2007’s Smoky Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, showed a switch to a more heavily produced pop-ish sound for Devendra.
Mala is coming out on Nonesuch Records, which is still a subset of Warner Brothers, but is home to artists such as Iron and Wine, The Black Keys, David Byrne, and Bjork. Hopefully this subtle switch will allow for more creativity, although in interviews Devendra responded to claims that he was selling out by saying that WB was actually really open to all of his creative desires. I know many Devendra fans like myself are hoping for more of the raw musical energy from his early albums. While I appreciate and understand that artists have to grow and adapt over the years, I think that the sound he brings to songs like “At The Hop”, “Sight to Behold”, and “Quedate Luna” is the reason a lot of us fell in love with him.
A few of the songs are already on YouTube to listen to before the release:
Für Hildegard von Bingen
Echoey vocals and guitars reminiscent of The XX almost, infused with electronic elements – this song is a little far off from what we’re used to with Devendra, but it works for me, I think.
Never Seen Such Good Things
This song is a fun little tune, that seems to be a bit of a love song. Its got hints of that lovely vibrato, a cute danceable beat, and some off the wall lyrics that we’ve come to love.
Spanish style guitars, a song about hopeless love. Beautiful and so very true to Devendra.
The album is produced and recorded by Devendra and bandmate, Noah Georgeson. They played most of the instruments themselves and recorded it on a vintage Tascam recorder; they utilized their environment as much as possible to create the rare sounds in the album. Which, according to an interview with Pure Channel, included such things as a switchblade, a chain, and a belt.
So if you don’t know Devendra Banhart, I highly suggest you familiarize yourself with him. His music has changed my life in a way that I cannot say any other thing has. I cannot wait for this album, and no matter what I will love and support him always. A tour has yet to be announced, but he’ll hopefully be making the rounds in the Spring/Summer! Pre-order Mala on CD and vinyl here: http://www.nonesuch.com/