The second long-player from the West Coast indie pop confectioners led by Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, whose fondness for buffalo wings yielded the nickname that would become the band's moniker, At Best Cuckold lays to rest any notions of a sophomore slump, offering up a dizzying ten-track set of warm and weird, immaculately crafted psych-pop gems that blend the shifty art rock of MGMT with the refined pop acumen of Sufjan Stevens. Designed and directed by Isenberg and recorded with Jay Pellicci (the Dodos, Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney), At Best Cuckold begins innocuously enough with the breezy "So What," a California sunset-ready highway (soft) rocker that lulls the listener into submission, a trajectory that's furthered by the Thunderclap Newman-inspired "Memories of You" and the Neil Young-kissed "Two Cherished Understandings." '70s folk-pop and rock may form the foundation of Avi Buffalo's sound, but Isenberg isn't content with simply re-imagining the past, and At Best Cuckold is at its most triumphant when it circumvents pastiche and goes for the throat, both emotionally and sonically. A palpable sense of metaphysical dread accompanies two of the album's strongest cuts, the nervy and hallucinatory "Think It's Gonna Happen Again" and the sweetly unhinged "Oxygen Tank," the latter a densely packed rumination on anxiety that amalgamates the pop craftsmanship of Burt Bacharach with the cosmic wonder of Wayne Coyne, and that sense of agitation is what ultimately wins the listener over in the end. Isenberg and company were just high schoolers when Sub Pop released their debut in 2010, and while the rest of us went to work or college or worse after graduation, Avi Buffalo hit the road, but they too spent those formative years navigating the strange cognitive duality of post-high school young adulthood, and the sad, strange, and beautiful At Best Cuckold does an awfully nice job distilling that unease into audio form.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger