Following the release of their 2013 debut, Curiosity, Portland-based duo Wampire had to adapt to a rigorous touring schedule, as well as expand their membership from the long-running creative team of songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps to a full band that could bring its studio creations to life on-stage. Curiosity was a busy and hyper-saturated pastiche of retro reference points and furry psych pop. It was a fantastically groomed album but also one that was years in the making, pained over by Tinder and Phipps as their band played locally around Portland, chipping away at ever-incubating ideas with no record deadline hovering over them. The intensive touring that followed the album's release can be heard in the overall sound of Bazaar. The album is dark and haunted, with the same sense of paranoia that touched Curiosity, but even with production handled again by Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Jacob Portrait, the songs sound more live, visceral in a way that comes when a band graduates from low-key house parties close to home to nightly international touring. While Tinder and Phipps wrote and performed Curiosity entirely as a duo, they let touring drummer Thomas Hoganson into the fold this time around, offering his various talents as a player and songwriter to the moody tones of Bazaar. Hoganson's saxophone playing becomes the unexpected star of almost every song he unleashes it on. He trades zippy sax lines with wobbly, '70s-sounding synth leads on standout track "Wizard Staff," the bandmembers sounding like less hyperactive, more meticulous cousins of their retro-minded peers in Foxygen. With the burning fuzz-fest opening track "The Amazing Heart Attack," they also tap into the heavier side of classic rock borrowing of bands like Tame Impala and (going further back) Dungen in their early days, and switch gears into soft vocal harmonies and nostalgic psych on "Millennials" or vaguely country-tinged soft rock tenderness with "Life of Luxury." All captured directly to warm analog tape, Bazaar sounds less constructed than its predecessor, even as the band zigzags through various styles and experiments with arrangements. The combination makes for a more direct delivery of some of their strongest songs and improves on the debut by stripping away some of its clutter.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas