Bibio
Ambivalence Avenue


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Robertson STAFF
August 27th, 2009 | 28 replies | 10,395 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ambivalence Avenue is fresh and funky, combining soulful and nostalgic vocals and guitar with modern dance beats to create something entirely new.

Whenever June rolls around, one of the prominent musical questions asked frequently is: "What is your summer album?" Unlike "favorite" or "most promising" album, the meaning of a "summer album" is up for interpretation. What does a "summer album" consist of? What makes it a "summer album"? Why not any other seasons? Due to these possible confusions, the answer to that question has always been a tough one for me. In fact, there has only been one year where I have been completely sure of the answer, and that is this year. The name of the album in question is Ambivalence Avenue, and it's by, straight out of Britain, a man named Stephen Wilkinson (stage name: Bibio).

Why is Ambivalence Avenue a "summer album"? Despite being of a genre that doesn't usually encompass summery moods, the album is, from the ground up, a bright and sunny album. It's got everything: pop anthems that sample soulful guitars, electronic dance jams, even a gentle love song. All of these are wrapped in an ethereal package, which usually include his muffled but gentle vocals. A perfect example is the opener and title track, which starts off with a swinging guitar line. Soon after the guitar line is introduced, the song begins its journey, by adding a dance beat and Wilkinson's peacefully faint vocals. The song has an easy flow and could effortlessly appeal to almost any type of music listener; from indietronica fans to fans of chill-out guitar music.

In there lies the strength of Bibio's music: while having enough effects poured onto it to be considered part of the lo-fi/experimental scene, the songs are soulful and danceable, and include a huge asset: being unbelievably catchy. "Fire Ant," the best song on the album, is another perfect example of this. Over a skittering IDM-esque beat, Bibio samples soul vocals and smooth synths, coalescing into a summery downtempo dance track that will allure the musical attention of just about anyone. However, "Fire Ant" also contains his biggest musical liability: its last minute meanders without much significance, as most of the songs on the album do for their second half. While this gives the music an interesting, atmospheric touch, it also makes it lose some of its mainstream appeal.

Towards the end of the album, Bibio also shows promise as a non-electronic artist; guitar-based songs "Lovers' Carvings," "Abrasion," and "The Palm of Your Wave" have almost none of the familiar beats, and instead showcase Wilkinson's beautiful vocal harmonies reminiscent of indie-folk bands such as Fleet Foxes. Not only are these songs just as good as the dance-oriented ones, but they also show Bibio's numerous talents, not just as an "folktronica" artist, but also as a straight-up folk artist.

Without a doubt one of the strongest and most enjoyable releases of the year, Ambivalence Avenue is both nostalgic and excitingly modern. It is the sound of an artist becoming bored with his own limitations and breaking creative barriers, coming out with something fresh and better than ever. If Ambivalence Avenue is the soundtrack to the summer, then it's definitely one hell of a summer.



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user ratings (128)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2009


15034 Comments


pretty short this time

someone give me something to review that i might not like

i havent done a negative review in 12000 years

this is also a bad review tbh; whatever

fire ant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2JWq5GL0Us&feature=related

AlexTM510
August 27th 2009


1401 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't think the review was bad-matter of fact it is solid/great review.

Album rules face. It def. a summertime album.

However I should listen to this more often. This album is going to be slept on like craaaazzzzyyyy this year.

joshuatree
Emeritus
August 27th 2009


3742 Comments


good stuff

essplode
August 27th 2009


92 Comments


really not that good, but lover's carvings makes me smile

and definitely feels like a fall record but maybe that's just me

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
August 27th 2009


3767 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea I see the fall thing.

I was enamored with this when I first heard it, but it's worn off a little since.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2009


15034 Comments


i can see the fall thing too but it's kinda summer to me


idk

sgrevs
August 27th 2009


698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is soo good, gonna be in top 5 this year easy. Good review.

samr4563
August 30th 2009


43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I always pictured more of a late summer thing. But then again, that's when this was introduced to me.

Great album!

Roach
August 30th 2009


2148 Comments


Idk from what I've heard this isn't as good as some of his earlier stuff.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2009


15034 Comments


i need to get his first album

just listen to fire ant man can u deny that

timbo8
October 2nd 2009


618 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hmm Fire Ant is probably my least favorite track here

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2009


10405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

interesting stuff

Digging: Literature - Chorus

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2009


15034 Comments


second half of the album is def weaker


still love this, in between 4/4.5

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2009


10405 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i actually preferred the second half. lover's carvings is awesome

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2009


15034 Comments


well maybe it's just cause i dotn really like the last two songs

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 15th 2009


15034 Comments


get this the year's almsot OVER !

bab808
January 20th 2011


456 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

played this all of last summer

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2011


15034 Comments


wow, was looking thru the last.fm randomly and saw how many plays i racked up of this...like an average of 30 per song or so. with fire ant at over 70

great album

Foxhound
April 5th 2011


4570 Comments


dled

brutebeard
May 2nd 2011


1655 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is one heck of a record



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