The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - LAU­REN MURPHY

At Best Cuck­old

Sub Pop If Avi Buf­falo’s 2010 de­but was a splurge of promis­ing ideas by a young band barely out of high school, At Best Cuck­old is a more con­sid­ered and well­rounded follow-up. It’s not that Avig­dor Zah­ner-Isen­berg (right) – the Cal­i­for­nia na­tive who leads the quar­tet and writes their songs – has lost any of his youth­ful ex­u­ber­ance, but the 23-year-old has audi­bly set­tled into a song­writ­ing groove that be­lies his years.

At Best Cuck­old, recorded off and on over the past four years, ref­er­ences many of the same in­flu­ences as its pre­de­ces­sor, but it has a con­sid­ered warmth that was pre­vi­ously lack­ing. Amer­i­can AOR from the 1970s gen­er­ously rears its head, with Over­whelmed with Pride and the pi­ano-led She Is Sev­en­teen draw­ing par­al­lels with John Grant’s Queen of Den­mark al­bum.

That sound isn’t the only sim­i­lar­ity be­tween both artists. Although Zah­ner-Isen­berg’s ten­der, tremu­lous voice is at odds with Grant’s rich bari­tone, the same wry sense of hu­mour per­vades many of his lyrics. “A man car­ry­ing an oxy­gen tank is gonna come kill me/And my fam­ily too, if I don’t stop see­ing you”, he in­tones on the wist­ful Ox­e­gen Tank. Think It’s Gonna Hap­pen Again sees him ca­su­ally im­part: “Cou­ple nights ago, I ran over two dogs, then I ate them after”.

As much as At Best Cuck­old nods to the ’70s, how­ever, a con­tem­po­rary kick cru­cially pre­vents it from be­ing solely a nostal­gia trip. The dreamy jan­gle of opener So What could pass for Real Es­tate’s head-in-the-clouds slacker pop, while Mem­o­ries of You leaves traces of Belle & Se­bas­tian in its wake.

That per­fect storm of hu­mour, warmth, fa­mil­iar­ity and fresh­ness makes both for a thor­oughly en­joy­able al­bum and a blue­print for some­thing even bet­ter – next time. avibuf­falo­mu­sic.com Down­load: Mem­o­ries of You, Think It’s Gonna Hap­pen Again

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