Avi Buffalo, it’s been a while. Four years, in fact, since Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg and his crew put out their mildly-radar-hitting self titled debut in 2010. You may remember this release, but chances are you may have missed out, so a reintroduction may be in order. Avi Buffalo is a group of youths from Long Beach, California, lead by the aforementioned gentleman who brought to life their growing album of “off kilter pop.” At Best Cuckold, this sophomore record, produces the challenge of recreating their success of the their first release, as well as growing from this initial sound.
“So What” picks up right where Avi Buffalo left off, with the reverb soaked high pitched, whisper vocals, the jangly twang of the guitar parts, and the sandy sounding drums pounding away. Though, as the song bounces its way along to the chorus, the band adds in elements, like a bit of saxophone and gang vocals, both coming together with the lead as well as doing their own thing to create different textures through its repeats. The whole track has this shimmery sheen to it, as if the group has rolled their music in sunshine—a simple but good beginning to the album.
On the whole, At Best Cuckold feels somehow lighter and airier than the band’s first release, and these moments of delicateness are the highlights for me on this album. Middle of the road tracks, “Two Cherished Understandings” and “Overwhelmed With Pride” both work together in the gentle warmth that is the theme of the album this go round. The first of these two tracks isn’t even two minutes in length and yet it has me coming back to it over and over again. Synthesizers waft in past some laid back gentle guitar, and the vocals—breathy, barely there—give it a feeling of easy nostalgia, something akin to an indie-pop lullaby. Carrying on this lullaby vibe, “Overwhelmed With Pride,” also brings in the horns, piano, and non-falsetto’ed vocals to put some depth and length on this stripped folksy tune that coolly comments on the pride that comes with being a human being.
But there isn’t just simple and delicate beauty here, but a strange and twisted side to this record that we first came to know on the band’s debut. You can hear this in the odd lyrics on numbers like “Memories Of You,” and “Think It’s Gonna Happen Again” in which the vocals also seem to twist into a caricature of itself. Just when you think you’ve got them pinned, Avi Buffalo keeps you guessing as to which direction they will steer you next, which is a large part as to why this album works in its twisted way.