The Austin Chronicle

SXSW 2012 Records

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, March 16, 2012, Music


Barchords (Universal Republic)

Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas) revels in laconic and languid bittersweet, part tongue-in-cheek, part dead-serious desperation. The charm lies in not knowing exactly from which perspective he's driving, which made the Toronto songwriter's debut, Pink Strat, one of last year's undervalued gems. Barchords wrangles a similar ambivalence, with slightly more ambition in arrangement while still remaining understated. The easy lope of opener "Lost in the Light" sets the casual mood with choral swells in defiance of heartbreak, while "Caught Me Thinking" dances against the blues. "Okay, Alright, I'm Alive" and "Any Other Way" saunter with an upbeat M. Ward vibe, but in between "Never Again," "Overjoyed," and "I Got You Babe" are beautifully bleak. Jurvanen's chiming guitar tones shimmer and strafe throughout, especially scouring on "Your Sweet Touch" and subtly picked on "Montreal" and "Time and Time Again." Barchords plays as the rare album that simultaneously lifts and pummels. (Wed., 11:30pm, St. David's Bethell Hall)


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