Mala

"Get on the dance floor" is not a phrase one associates with Devendra Banhart, but there he is, vaguely demanding it at the start of his seventh album. There's no danger of the king of folkie beardos making a Harlem Shake video. But vintage drum-machine tup-tup and the occasional synth splash color on this return to form, Banhart's first album since 2009 and his strongest set of songs since the earlier, freakier material. On recent records, Banhart seems to grab at anything that would get him out of the freak-folk box; Mala is smoother in its amalgamation, drifty melodies and his classic mumble recorded with gorgeously low-fi-sounding muffle. Maybe he just needed a little time off.

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