Album Review: Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust

By Tanner Bidish, Contributor

[Joyful Noise; 2016]

Rating: 7.5/10

Key Tracks: “m’lover,” “Ode to My Next Life,” “Honeybody”

Sonderlust grabs its name from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, with “sonder” meaning “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”. Written in the midst of a failing marriage, Kishi Bashi’s Sonderlust reaches new intimate heights for the composer, and is perhaps his most personal work to date, living up to its title. The new album is a genre blend of R&B, 70’s soft rock and most notably, disco. Listeners should expect to hear Bashi trading in his signature violin loops for guitars and synths, but with excellent pay off.

The record opens with “m’lover,” a track that is nothing short of a banger. Plucky strings and synth combine to create an irresistible beat. Bashi’s vocals are pleading for normality in romance. It’s painful, but upbeat and – under the right light – hopeful. That feeling is the vibe of the entire album. However, Sonderlust is never lacking in variety. Tragic inability to move on hits in “Can’t Let Go, Juno,” while “Who’d You Kill” gets darker with a cynical look at an ex-lover accompanied by deep heavy low notes. “Ode to My Next Life” is a disco ballad that drips with electric energy over Bashi’s emotive lyrics; a real gem. A highlight of the musical choices made on the album is probably the intro to “Say Yeah,” which is delightful and reminiscent of chip tune. “Honeybody” closes the record on its most hopeful jam. The track is warm and feels like the normality that is coveted throughout the album is achievable.

It’s notable that not every track is as memorable as the last. The central flaw of Sonderlust comes from its strength. The themes and motivation of the album certainly make it personal, but it is a love album. Each song is about romance, and that can become heavy handed. Despite that Sonderlust is definitely worth the listen. Kishi Bashi offers a personal look at love, and above all else shines musically.

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