His first album released since “Mala” in 2013, Devendra Banhart returns to us to sing us into a warm lull with his new album “Ape in Pink Marble.” The album opens with “Middle Names,” a sleepy melody that has an intense longing disguised under its deceptively simple sounds. This lullaby continues into “Good Time Charlie” before gradually picking up only slightly into “Jon Lends a Hand.”
Banhart’s work includes heavy international influences. Being Venezuelan-American himself, he frequently uses his heritage to enhance his work and even sings in other languages such as Spanish and German. Although “Ape in Pink Marble” is entirely sung in English, the multinational feel is still very palpable. The gentle guitar strumming is a bit reminiscent of traditional Spanish technique. This being said, modern production is nothing unfamiliar to Banhart, the sixth track on the album, “Fig in Leather” as well as the final track, “Celebration,” use synth to create an airy, dreamlike feel. In fact, this entire album is trance like.
Intricate and layered, there is something new to hear in every listen of this album. Whether it be a subtle chord progression, or a hidden meaning behind a deceptively simple lyric, Banhart has the incredible ability to hide complexities within the confines of an easy going melody. Being inherently artistic, Banhart succeeds in being able to convey feelings and emotions through a wide variety of channels in his music; his voice, his inflection, his melodies all work together to capture the listener’s mind. While not being objectively as catchy or popular as his previous album, be prepared for “Ape in Pink Marble” to haunt you just the same.
Recommended listening times include, but are not limited to, a hazy & lazy Sunday afternoon, after a first date, while in a coffee shop after dusk, etc. However, it is not suggested that you listen to this album before you go out on a weekend night, or while trying to feel upbeat or pumped up in general. Overall, “Ape in Pink Marble” is an excellent listen if you’re in the right mood and Devendra Banhart once again shows the world his immense talent and emotional insight in a way impossible to truly describe or recreate.