The Hype: Today's unveiling of Long Beach indie pop darlings Avi Buffalo's full-length, Sub Pop debut couldn't have come at a better time. The sun is out, the birds are chirping and young, twitterpated hipsters are already jonesing for a soundtrack to their summer.
In that case, this shy collection of fragmented love songs should satisfy that need quite nicely. And as Doug Wallen mentioned in this week's OC Weekly band profile, this charmingly awkward band of youngsters have earned themselves a very “happy beginning” to their careers thanks to relentless touring and packed local gigs.
Now that singer/songwriter Avigdor “Avi” Zahner-Isenberg has made his mark on the Long Beach music scene at the ripe-old age of 19, we look forward to seeing him and his band spread themselves to the masses on the heels of this self-titled release.
The Judgement: Just when it seems that our lexicon of self-deprecating, indie pop acts couldn't stomach one more carbon copy of the Shins, along comes Avi Buffalo. And magically we're reminded how every once in a while a band like this can throw all of their artsy singer songwriter influences in a blender and still find room to be original.
Though Zahner-Isenberg's voice evokes an endless conglomerate of comparisons (think Daniel Johnston, James Mercer with a little bit of Andrew Van Wyngarden of MGMT thrown in) the borderline-pubescent quality of his falsetto manages to set him apart. Who knew that hearing a singer's voice almost crack on every song could be an endearing quality?
The album's opening track “Truth Sets In,” lays strands of electric twang over soft acoustic guitar while Zahner-Isenberg's cautious vocals creep in slowly to awaken the sunny sounds of this 10-track offering that clocks in just under 45 minutes. By the time you reach the sparkling refrain of “What's In It For?” your enjoyment of the rest of the album will depend on how much lovesick poetry,tangled guitar lines and background hand clapping you can stand in one sitting.
For those that enjoy that sort of thing, the band's delicate poppy landscapes are a soothing backdrop to the thoughtful (and yes, self-deprecating) lyrics working inside the verses of “Summer Cum”: “Go on and tell your friends how I can't rearrange my skin/ They've made up stories based on me so everyone could feel at ease.”
Though most of the songwriting generally warrants the claims that the band are wise beyond their years, syrupy love songs like “Jessica” remind us that most of the band is barely clawing out of adolescence, and that stories of teenage break-ups are pretty exhausting to listen to.
But the albums final track “Where's Your Dirty Mind,”– full of bold mantras like “Be adventurous, show 'em what you're made of”– reveals the mindset of a band that is willing and able to get better with every record they put out.