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