Khruangbin
Mordechai


3.0
good

Review

by Thomas S. USER (29 Reviews)
July 15th, 2020 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: heard and not really heard at all

As I sit at my desk, writing what will eventually become this review, Con Todo El Mundo plays from a portable speaker on my windowsill. I’m staring vacantly into the void of an empty Word document, sorting through the jumble of thoughts and ideas in my brain, when suddenly I realise that my head is nodding, and my foot is tapping, and though my mind is elsewhere, my body is swaying unconsciously to the beat, locked into the groove. Until now, this has been the modus operandi of Khruangbin. Their lean, cosmopolitan funk was designed to make no demands on your attention; to hang surreptitiously in the background, unscrutinised, according mood and atmosphere to even the most mundane of tasks. It’s a strange paradox, but Khruangbin often sound best when you’re not really listening at all.

Mordechai represents a departure from this purely utilitarian approach to song writing. Texas Sun, a soulful collaborative EP with Leon Bridges, proved that the band’s honeyed instrumentals pair well with sung melody, and here the experiment continues, with bassist Laura Lee Ochoa taking up the mantle of primary vocalist. When Khruangbin shift out of stoned house-band mode, which appears to be their default setting, this new configuration is occasionally bold and exciting. Infectious disco bop ‘Time (You and I)’ draws a certain shambolic charm from Ochoa’s laconic delivery, as does ‘Pelota’, an ebullient, Peruvian-inspired cut replete with timbales drums, hand claps and Spanish lyrics. The album’s highwater mark comes in the form of ‘Dearest Alfred’, a smoky dub jam that precariously balances Ochoa’s dazed melodies with Mark Speers’ viscous guitar work, in exquisite synergy.

It’s in this balancing act, however, that Mordechai so often comes unstuck. Take the six-minute ‘If There is No Question’, an anaemic downtempo rambler that feels listless in the absence any real melodic lodestar; or ‘So We Won’t Forget’, a bittersweet pop ballad that fails to provide adequate support for Ochoa’s shaky, if earnest, vocal performance. That ‘Connaissaiss De Face’, ‘Father Bird, Mother Bird’ and ‘Shida’ – all of which default to the silky guitar histrionics of earlier material – are among the album’s best is an indictment. Khruangbin are eager to experiment, which is commendable, but are also reluctant to jettison the cruisy, unobtrusive aesthetic for which they’re so universally beloved. The result is an uneven and capricious album from a band in transition. Both innovative and utterly familiar, then, Mordechai wants to be simultaneously heard and not really heard at all.



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user ratings (68)
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
tombits
July 15th 2020


3576 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ya can't win em all

Trifolium
July 15th 2020


32388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review, have a pos!

This one was slightly underwhelming for me too. At a very hesitant 3.5 for me now, really miss the world-influences (yuck, isn't there a better genre tag for this!?) on this one. They went a little too far into bland and boring disco land for my tastes.

The person who negged you must have disagreed with your rating primarily, because the review itself is perfectly written, makes its point clearly and states reasons for it so I don't know why a neg is deserved at all...

tombits
July 15th 2020


3576 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks, mate!



i definitely know what you mean. where The Universe Smiles Upon You and Con Todo El Mundo had very distinct musical personalities (Afghan and Thai funk, respectively), this record feels like a real pastiche of influences - there's Latin and Caribbean flavours, and of course American disco, funk and soul too. in a way it's more ambitious than anything they've done, but it doesn't quite hit the mark for me.

Trifolium
July 15th 2020


32388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ah, seems like the negging person changed their mind (or was forced to by the powers that be).

Exactly! Their first two had this nice, refreshing sound whereas I feel this one, while diverse in its influences, chooses to go down a more general and well-known road.

WatchItExplode
July 15th 2020


9710 Comments


here cuz tom review

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2020


28254 Comments


Band is as alluring as frustratingly boring. And I fall for the same trick every. single. time.

Digging: Autumn's Grey Solace - Within the Depths of a Darkened Forest

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2020


9616 Comments


Short and sweet and excellently written, pos, but the rating is incongruous to a review that reads like a 3++.

For me, this is a 3.5–, I love the first two songs and “Pelota”, the rest of the album is gradually growing in me.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2020


3910 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review! Definitely harsher than my thoughts on this one though, I'd put this in a similar quality range to the band's other releases. Enjoyable stuff, but not a 2020 highlight. I don't think they've topped their debut LP yet.

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2020


2068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Succinct and informative review, pos

Band is pretty boring

porcupinetheater
July 15th 2020


9791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wish I loved the record like I love that bass tone

rabidfish
July 15th 2020


7621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i mean, never listened to their other albums, so i can't really compare, but this is pretty cool

Digging: Emancipator and 9 Theory - A Thousand Clouds

tombits
July 16th 2020


3576 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks for all the nice comments, guys!



@ Voivod in retrospect you're right about the incongruous rating. my criticisms mostly stem from comparisons to their earlier albums, which is slightly ungenerous because, in a vacuum, this is probably closer to a 3. i've changed the review to reflect that.

hamid95
July 16th 2020


1042 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

like, i can groove to this, but that's about it

Trifolium
July 17th 2020


32388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah this rating does fit the tone of the review better.

Agreed with Sunnyvale too, they haven't topped their debut LP yet [2].

farmerobama
July 19th 2020


470 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The first two albums got my hopes up that they're maybe up for something great in the future, but this is just plain boring. (still smooth tho)

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 29th 2020


9616 Comments


Heard the album when released, dropped it, picked it up today, and it sounds much better than the first listens.

OmairSh
November 29th 2020


17567 Comments


Need to give it a listen. The singles are good but didn't really tempt me to check the album

Digging: Porcupine Tree - Closure/Continuation

keaton_86
November 29th 2020


662 Comments


Tis a good album to hump to.

Cormano
April 11th 2021


3485 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

sweet artwork, band is terribly boring tho

osmark86
March 14th 2022


11120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Boring? Dunno. Relaxing though..

Digging: Gidge - New Light



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