The lo-fi indie pop band, based around the songwriting of Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, are back with their second record, 'At Best Cuckold', a self-produced and homegrown record that carries on from their self-titled debut. 'At Best Cuckold' shows off warm, enveloping guitars and the sweet vocal of Zahner-Isenberg that recalls a good number of twee pop sweethearts -- he's got some harmonies backed behind him too. As you'd expect from an Avi Buffalo record, it's all very nice.
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Its taken Avi Buffalo a good few years to follow up their sweet self-titled debut and in general I’m pleased to report its been worth the wait. I’ve been enjoying large chunks of this album particularly the summery, breezy pop songs such as opener ‘So What’ with its effortless charm jam-packed with melody and casually strummed guitars.
I’m not sure what traumas leader Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg has been going through since their last record but his lyrics veer between heartfelt romanticism, a kind of jovial anger to highly playful moments - ‘I’m a cheeseball on fire” he declares on the countryfied lilt of ‘Memories of You’ which ends with a lengthy and twiddly guitar solo which has its tongue pressed firmly in cheek. This juxtaposes excellently with ‘Can’t Be Too Responsible’ which is played with a straight bat, a lovely track, here Zahner-Isenberg’s vocals are straight from the heart and beautifully executed. The album veers between smart upbeat pop and slower Mercury Rev-like widescreen balladry - the first example of the latter ‘Two Cherished Understandings’ proves that you can still use the ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ chords without anyone in the recording or the production of the album seeming to notice.
Better is ‘Overwhelmed by Pride’ which again tugs at all the right heartstrings, Zahner-Isenberg’s choirboy voice is the secret weapon of this band, disarming on a regular basis and hard not to compare this track to Sufjan Stevens at his most affecting. Just when you think the record is going to get swallowed up in navel-gazing balladry, the pace is upped with ‘Found Blind’ and ‘Think its Going to Happen Again with shades of Neil Young on the latters high-pitched vocal though you rarely get Neil singing ‘couple of nights ago, I ran over two dogs, then I ate them after’. A mixed bag then with a myriad of melodic highlights and moments of intense beauty.
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- At Best Cuckold by Avi Buffalo
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