BAIO – The Names Review

With his debut solo effort The Names Chris Baio who has previously been known as the capable bassist of Vampire Weekend to many and as an accomplished DJ to a few more, has the benefit of people not expecting too much from him. With this underestimation as “one of the other guys from Vampire Weekend” is the potential to really highlight his credentials as a musician in his own right and as a talented producer too. His eclectic mix of genres and recording styles are something that is always welcome, but it’s one thing trying and quite another making a great album from such an approach.

The lead single from the album is ‘Sister of Pearl’ which is a rhythmic and organic piece of pop rock with a neat, yet warm continental style with rapid mandolin-like riffs and staccato-like piano chords that bring forth a high pithed harmonisation of the Baio’s vocals with dip in and out of a trembling baritone at one end of the scale to a wistful melodic backing vocal on the other. The track remains simple, slick and direct differences of audible clarity between elements makes those that he wants to stand out make themselves known and make themselves an integral part of the track. With this in mind he let’s the catchy tune continue throughout whilst the faint whirring synths behind lift the song up to it’s concluding peak. A cleverly though out track which is intricately functional, but also fun. ‘Endless Rhythm’ is a track which is evocative of the previous tracks in it’s form and sleek structure with it’s chiming melodies and crisp bass lines. It’s anchored by Chris’ casual and low pitched vocal and it’s stuttered echo which are a solid placement amongst the flowering electronica and those delicate, chiming melodies. What is evident with both of these singles is his song writing ability with simple, but often eccentric lyrical content that sounds familiar until you delve a little deeper.

Upon hearing the title track you begin to detect a hint of consistency as he combines those rhythmic tones with a creative production that has featured in all of his singles in isolation, but here it is combined with a great results. The intermittent, nudging beats paly off the warped, whirring synths as Baio’s skipping vocal goes on to echo on across the instrumentation. With this track he is able to form a delicate and considered dance track using his rhythmic sensibility and his skill behind the controls. ‘Brainwash Yyrr Face’ is a track more akin to Caribou with it’s clicking percussion and controlled bursts of rich, warping and whirring electronica. In this case he utilises vocal samples to generate a tune of spliced parts of a vocal which deliver an Jamie XX style of reaching a peak of sound in the chorus. The verses flanking them are fitted out with Baio’s echoed and light vocal and the track is concluded with a more heavier and bulkier variation of the instrumentation previous with a more flamboyant percussion behind it, ending in a proper dance track manner. ‘Needs’ is a groove filled piece of modern disco met with a hazy, but meandering vocal. The track goes on to turn into an unrelenting guitar anthem before again spilling off into a angular piece of electronica before starting it’s cycle again. A track of poise and purpose. ‘Matter’ is more of an ode to The Pet Shop Boys with the laser-like flashes of electronica meeting a driving dance beat and a low toned, broken down vocal. ‘I Was Born In A Marathon’ offer up Baio’s take on early 90’s techno with an added sense of atmospheric perspective and melody. The other two tracks offer up very different experimental themes, but both ‘All The Idiots’ and ‘Scarlett’ remain intriguing and inviting pieces of music which is the consistency with this album. Beyond that particular consistency, he has moulded a varied and dynamic album of intricate and well thought out tracks that are often very enjoyable to take in and greatly rewarding for the listener. To achieve both of these qualities is far from easy and for a debut album Baio should be commended for it.

BAIO – The Names = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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