Dan Bodan

Soft

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Montreal-raised, Berlin-based singer and songwriter Dan Bodan released his first album, the self-produced Nudity & Atrocity, in 2011 and subsequently joined the DFA roster. Singles released for the New York label in 2012 and 2013 were as varied production-wise as their sleeve designs, entailing what resembled a drunken Blue Nile demo, lo-fi drum'n'bass, and bristly trip-hop. For the MMW1 label, Bodan released an additional single -- one that included a cover version by Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor. On Soft, Bodan is assisted by several producers, and while the backdrops range from light drum'n'bass to the kind of stark and lurching beats heard more commonly on labels like Tri Angle and Modern Love, the album isn't quite as scattered as the singles. Bodan tends to sing frankly about sexual and emotional intimacy, and his voice often recalls that of Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan, though a little bit higher in pitch, with occasional quavering. It's on the thin side and shows its flaws most on a version of "For Heaven's Sake," a song popularized by Billie Holiday. That said, Bodan is distinctly expressive, aching, longing, and sometimes even prodding without sounding like he's trying particularly hard. Here, he's a balladeer first and foremost, discreetly dipping and diving through pliant breakbeat loops, dribbling drums, and gently melodic keyboards. An A-side from 2013, "Anonymous," is among the highlights, while Bodan revisits "Hunger Games," originally released the same year, and alters it so radically that he retitles it, more descriptively, as "Catching Fire" -- it's the album's most intense song, where he continually asks "Is it jealousy when I see you cry?" with a slight sneer.

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