Published Sep 05, 2014Nearly five years after the release of their self-titled debut album, an eternity in this fast-paced musical consumption climate, Avi Buffalo are finally ready to unleash their sophomore effort, At Best Cuckold. Founder, lead singer and songwriter and guitarist Avi Zahner-Isenberg enlisted long-time collaborator Sheridan Riley and multi-instrumentalist John Anderson to help produce an album that, while not necessarily a departure from Avi Buffalo's debut, expands on ideas and sounds that were already present.
Zahner-Isenberg has a fondness for overdubbing, made apparent throughout the ten songs, that creates a multi-layered and emotionally expansive end product. Claiming to write in a more "orchestral way this time around," most noticeably on the guitar riff-filled outro of "Oxygen Tank" and on the album's shortest and most affecting track, "Two Cherished Understandings," At Best Cuckold is filled with whimsical piano chords, strong bass lines and layered guitar strings. The lyricism suggests an album of regrets, self-doubt and good old fashioned growing up, having been written from the ages of 19 to 23. Lyrics such as "lonely roads seem to follow me… and these birds seem so fucking free, they're nothing compared to me," on the ironically titled "Overwhelmed With Pride," showcase that Zahner-Isenberg is acutely aware of the world surrounding him while being fully enveloped by his interiority; "Found Blind," meanwhile, boasts some fairly intricate guitar work contrasted with youthful lyrics like "walking barefoot with some blank CDs."
The album's greatest strength is the confidence shown by the band's collaborators, who Zahner-Isenberg allowed to feed the creative process in ways he'd be unable to alone. At Best Cuckold is a strong cohesive whole, a sum of all its theoretically disparate parts, and one that wears its idiosyncrasies proudly on its sleeve. (Sub Pop)