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Bunny (2018)

Matthew Dear

... read moreMatthew Dear's sixth studio album under his own name places a greater focus on his pop and singer/songwriter impulses than any of his previous works. As sprawling and ambitious as his other long-players, Bunny features some of his most forthright songwriting and catchiest hooks, yet there's still...

Review

Matthew Dear's sixth studio album under his own name places a greater focus on his pop and singer/songwriter impulses than any of his previous works. As sprawling and ambitious as his other long-players, Bunny features some of his most forthright songwriting and catchiest hooks, yet there's still plenty of strangeness and left turns to wrap one's head around. Opener "Bunny's Dream" is a feverish seven-minute montage of scattered voices, atmospheric guitar licks, fuzzy bass, and rippling arpeggios, all framed by a galloping, somewhat sticky beat. There's a sort of '70s rock swagger to songs like "Calling," where Dear's eternally acquired-taste vocals take the limelight. There's a definite arc to the sequencing of the album, but it's hard to tell if the songs are meant to form a particular narrative or not. The cryptic character study "Echo" seems like it would be a pivotal point in the album's concept, while "Modafinil Blues" is an unsettling action scene, and the best track overall. Two of the songs are duets with Dear's longtime friends Tegan and Sara, and they're easily the most emotionally direct songs he's ever written. "Horses," dedicated to Dear's wife, is an honest expression of unwavering devotion, while "Bad Ones" mixes playfulness with vulnerability. In between them, there are several songs that explore an abstract disco mode, with splashing beats, funky basslines, and complex vocal arrangements. Following the wordless textural bounce titled "Duke of Dens," "Electricity" is more of a jolt of nervous post-punk energy, with David Byrne-ish singing and looped vocal fragments (including a particularly head-grabbing "Woooo!"). Bunny seems more like an album to mentally pick apart than dance to, yet it's not hard to lose one's self in the rush of Dear's inventive rhythms. ~ Paul Simpson

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