Album Review: David Bazan – Care

By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
[Undertow; 2017]
Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “Care,” “Lazerbeams,” “The Ballad of Pedro Y Blanco”

Blanco was quite an album for David Bazan. Released last year, the third solo record from the former Pedro the Lion frontman was the most ambitious approach to electronic music of his career, even when comparing it to his shortly lived synth-heavy project Headphones. With thick production and even thicker synth textures, Blanco provided a whole new perspective to Bazan’s emotional, sad writing style, giving it a danceable and dreamy soundscape. His follow-up record, Care, sees Bazan continuing this synth-heavy sound, but taking out a major flaw that was present in Blanco: it never drags.

The opening title track is a delicate, perfectly mixed introduction that sets the mood for what’s to come. Filled with repetitive synth runs and Bazan’s typical imaginative storytelling, “Care” is a simple synth-pop song with great singing and one heck of a catchy chorus. The following track, “Up All Night,” is just as fun, with quirky instrumentals and lyrics about being young during the summer.

The remainder of the album is very similar to the openers, with Bazan’s dark voice fitting surprisingly well with the bright, shimmering electronics that are all over the place. “Sparkling Water” is a good example, with its simple drum rhythm and synth bassline, covered in mysterious soundscapes and a high-pitched synth lead matched with Bazan’s slow, depressed vocal tones. The shuffling, staccato-filled Moog synths and blaring percussion of “Lazerbeams” are other highlight of the record, sounding almost like the sad indie response to EDM music. Its percussion-heavy mixing and bending synths make for arguably the most memorable song on the record, especially with the beautiful harmonies on the chorus that stick with you.

The biggest flaw on Bazan’s last record was its second half, which dragged a little with tracks that weren’t as memorable as its singles. Care mends this issue with its simplistic style, which never tires and seems more accessible, especially since a lot of these instrumentals feel so familiar and homey. There really isn’t any sort of underwhelming qualities across Care’s 10 tracks, which is honestly one of the best things an album can do.

Care isn’t a mind-blowing record, but it’s proof that after decades of work in the music industry, David Bazan hasn’t lost any of his craft. It never overstays its welcome or gets uninteresting, and every track feels as personal and sincere as the rest of Bazan’s past work. Whether you a longtime fan of Bazan’s material or a newcomer to his discography, Care is an album that should not be overlooked.

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