Warm, inviting, and just so slightly sleepy, Afie Jurvanen continues to keep things simple on his second Bahamas album, Barchords. With its spacious, roomy sound and laid-back vibe, the album feels as if the guitarist is beginning to settle into a good groove as a songwriter, sounding more relaxed and self-assured on his sophomore effort as he allows the empty spaces of "Overjoyed" and the gentle repetition of "Lost in the Light" to stand on their own without over-thinking them too much. This sense of patience and confidence gives Barchords a more organic, feeling as if it's the plant that grew from the seed planted on Pink Strat. Intimate without being voyeuristic, and approachable without being patronizing, sparse without being cold, Barchords manages to balance all of these elements beautifully, merging plaintive folk and bluesy soul with just enough pop to make the whole thing go down smoothly. In the end, this kind of musical high-wire act is what ultimately allows Bahamas to not only avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, but to easily surpass their solid debut.
by Gregory Heaney