Former Verbena vocalist A.A. Bondy summoned up a compelling late-night mood on his 2009 album When the Devil's Loose, and for 2011's Believers, Bondy's music has crept further into the darkest hours of the early morning, conjuring up a sound that lurks somewhere between consciousness and a dream. Bondy's songs on Believers are simple to the point of sounding spectral, built around his gracefully elemental guitar figures and washes of piano and organ, and bassist Macey Taylor and drummer Benjamin Lester let the performances move like the tides, easy but strong. Bondy's songs on Believers aren't much on narrative specifics, but he sure knows how to create an ambience, and there's a sorrowful beauty in his vocals that's tremendously effective; while he never sounds for a minute like he's forcing himself, this ranks with the very best singing Bondy has done in the recording studio to date. Rob Schnapf, who co-produced Believers with Bondy, has given this music a spacious tone that's the aural equivalent of a classic film noir, with the moon gleaming off rain slick streets, and it's a superb match for Bondy and his songs, fusing beauty, mystery, and menace at all turns. While many of Bondy's previous albums found him openly emulating the sound or aural details of some other artist, Believers sounds much more like Bondy has simply followed his own muse for a change, and the results reveal his confidence was well founded -- these ten songs are full of elusive magic and Bondy and his collaborators have made an album that's long on mystery but satisfying enough to make it worthy of repeated investigation; you're not likely to hear a new album that sounds better after 1 A.M. than this anytime soon.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming