Blanco, the third solo album from indie rock wayfarer David Bazan, finds the singer working from home in a mindset of deep personal introspection. Comprised of tracks from his Bazan Monthly 7" series that he and collaborator Yuuki Matthews launched in 2014, the intimate home-recorded affair is a largely guitar-less pastiche of experimental synth pop and programmed beats that mostly recall his 2005 side project Headphones. Rather than the ragged-voiced, six-string troubadour logging miles on the D.I.Y. house concert circuit, this is the ragged-voiced basement pop experimentalist trying his hand at a new format while the family sleeps upstairs. While Bazan has never been one to shy away from difficult self-examination, his concerns here feel more provincial, revolving around family life and approaching middle age rather than the religion or politics that populated much of his work with Pedro the Lion. But, if his tools are now synthetic ones, he still presents a very raw, human edge on tracks like "Kept Secrets" and "Someone Else's Bet," with their blown-out drums and woozy synth lines. Aesthetically, there is little in the way of soft-synth EDM ambience, and some of the more heavy-handed new wave-inspired tracks like "Oblivion" and "With You" almost veer into early Magnetic Fields territory, with Bazan's deep (and deeply sincere) baritone vocals making him come off like a humorless Stephin Merritt. But droll humor is not Bazan's bailiwick, and in spite of some of Blanco's near-misses, it's nice to hear him put down the guitar and insert himself into less familiar environs.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger