Much like the Doleful Lions' Jonathan Scott, Jacob Safari of Bark Bark Bark starts with lyrical inspirations one associates more with the Misfits or Roky Erickson than the average one-man indie band: references to ghosts, zombies, and other creatures of nightmares populate most of these songs. However, where Scott's tastes run toward stark, lo-fi acoustic guitars, Safari performs most of Haunts on a variety of cheap-sounding keyboards and rhythm boxes, as if Glenn Danzig were collaborating with early-'90s-vintage Stephin Merritt. Haunts is a punky D.I.Y. effort with an appealingly rough surface that helps hide the fact that a few of the songs sound a bit underwritten. Unexpectedly pretty ballads like "Tattoos" and artsy experiments like the fractured Weimar cabaret of "Heart" sit next to jittery faux new wave workouts ("I Love You But I Don't") and hip-hop-influenced dance-pop tunes ("Dead Ghost" and the vaguely annoying "I'm Needy"), but the album's homemade sound and Safari's reliably awkward vocals are consistent enough to keep the album from sounding terminally scattershot. Haunts is an uneven, occasionally frustrating exercise, but Safari evinces enough solid ideas to make it a worthwhile listen.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
feat: Jonathan Castellanos