David Bazan

Care

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Expanding on the synth-led sound of 2016's moody Blanco, indie stalwart David Bazan offers up Care, an appealingly rugged set that uses scuffed-up drum machines and keyboard abrasions to frame his unflinching personal meditations. Whereas Blanco's playlist consisted of material from his ambitious 2014-2015 subscription series, Bazan Monthly, Care is a distinctly formed collection that better solidifies this new approach. Helmed by Richard Swift (Starflyer 59, the Shins, the Black Keys), Care is led by its title cut, a standout track whose stark arpeggiations and lo-fi feel belie its utter human warmth. As the album progresses, its minimalist bones are further revealed, adding an effective severity to Bazan's well-crafted songs. The brazen low synths and total absence of guitar turn the attention sharply to the strong melodic leads like on the strange, harsh pop of "Up All Night," a catchy, dark-toned ode to the warmer months that hints at a wry tone with its chorus of "summertime ain't just for teachers, summertime, trying to sleep til noon, summertime up all night howling at the moon." "Make Music," another highlight shimmers its way across a propulsive synthetic groove as Bazan examines addictions, aging, and risking heart and soul in the pursuit of song. Improving on its predecessor, Care sees Bazan successfully turning a new corner while remaining faithful to the type of songwriting that's made his career.

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