Pink Strat



by CarterVance USER (10 Reviews)
April 7th, 2011 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bedsit indie album is enjoyable, but not innovative.

Bahamas fit into an fairly-early strain of indie music, characterized by such practitioners as Sebadoh's Lou Barlow, that's kind of gone out of vogue in recent years. Namely, the four-track-in-the-basement acoustic stuff characterized by lovelorn lyrics, invitingly unprofessional vocals, simple, lilting melodies and basic, no-frills production.

Right off the top, though, to defuse any impressions, Bahamas aren't as good as a band like Sebadoh but, that's a pretty high bar and, mostly, this is an enjoyable, if slight, listen. Afie Jurvanen, the guy behind the whole project, and whose past work has apparently included backing up Feist, has a very interesting voice. It's often in sensitive-indie-guy mumble mode, but, even there he's got a bit more of a country twang to himself than someone like, say, Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek, and when he lets his voice get a bit more open-toned, he shows a good deal more versatility than your typical bedroom folkie. As you would expect, the songs here are mostly very basic guitar-and-voice things, but, much like his inspirations, Jurvanen wants to play with that form via the production embellishments; for the most part, this works. The running-all-over-the-place slide guitar on "Lonely Loves" is an interesting musical wild card, "Hockey Teeth" and "Southern Drawl" are basically straight-up full-band country songs, albeit not with "country" vocals and the jazzy finger-snaps on album-closing cover "Whole Wide World" add to what might otherwise be a more archetypal composition. Often, he'll bring in an electric guitar to play melodic counterpoint to his acoustic (as on "Till The Morning") and that's a still-functional, if well-worn trick. In addition, in general, the songs here are very well-written within their chosen idiom, all have memorable melodies and stick-in-your-brain choruses; this sort of material definitely has a carved-out niche audience, but when it's done well there's really nothing else like it.

However, my main issue with the record is that I don't think it ever steps outside the realm of being a very good sensitive-indie-four-track-basement album. Outside of a few clever phrases, the sentiments of alternate puppy-love and wistful melancholy expressed in the lyrics here have been done better elsewhere, and have also been ground-down to almost nothing by constant repetition within the indie-folk sphere. As well, this is four-track folk for the digital age in that the record has a very clean mix, with all the instruments clearly defined from one another and Jurvanen's voice crisp and up-front. You might say "how could that be a bad thing?", but the fact is that past albums like this often had very gauzy production where instruments would leak into one another and the vocals wouldn't be clearly audible. Though that sound certainly came out more of a lack of money and studio time than anything else, it did create a wonderful aesthetic for this type of music; it may have been way more slap-dash but it also created a weird intimacy between performer and listener, the ultra lo-fi production adding to the authenticity of the music. That said, Jurvanen's sincerity in this pursuit is not in question and the record is certainly not glossy within the grander scheme of things,it's positively spartan compared to any radio-rock, but, when you're making music that tends to pride itself on an emotional honesty it's probably better to allow that to come through in the music itself more (it also has the fortunate side-effect of covering up some of your less well-written lyrics). Also, as much as some of his willingness to play around sonically is successful, some of it isn't: "Already Yours" would be a lot better without the off-time drum thump in the background and the piano on "What's Worse" feels out of place.

With all that said, especially if this sort of music is already your bag, this album is largely recommendable. It may not do much to expand its form and genre, but within it, it's a solid if unexceptional entry.

And, really, this dude's Canadian and made a song called "Hockey Teeth”, how can you not appreciate that?

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Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2011


one review per day bro.

April 21st 2012


Album Rating: 2.5

Under the ironical moniker of Bahamas, Toronto singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen performs a languidly paced brand of indie-folk on his debut LP 'Pink Strat'. Titled after his pink Fender Stratocaster, pretty much everything here is understated; from the stripped down guitar arrangements through to the sleepy, drawling vocals. There is the occasional lyrical gold nugget & Jurvanen clearly knows how to play his instrument, but 'Pink Strat' is ultimately just too dull for its own good... Its melodies do not display enough variety, even when its 12 tracks only last a total of 32 minutes. Recommended Tracks: Whole Wide World, What's Worse & Already Yours.

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