March 4, 2011

Bibio - Mind Bokeh

Over a span of five studio albums (and a string of annoying arguments that Bibio is essentially a rip-off of Boards of Canada), Bibio a.k.a. Stephen Wilkinson has transformed his sound from vintage-sounding, lo-fi folk songs, to a whole range of genres that became apparent on his last album, Ambivalence Avenue. There was the spastic electronic blips on Fire Ant and Sugarette, the more pop-oriented efforts of the title track and Lovers' Carvings, the straight-up funkiness of Jealous of Roses, but also the quiet, folk sound of that made up most of his sound prior to the album, and most of the songs on the album blended those genres together quite well. That's why AA remains one of my favorite albums of all time.

And fortunately, Bibio has decided to keep to the genre blending for Mind Bokeh. Only this time, the songs in general are a bit harsher and harder to get along with. There's K is for Kelson, for example, which is so outrageously poppy and upbeat, it can be really off-putting. Or the Phoenix-esque song Take Off Your Shirt, which adds 'rock' to Wilkinsons vast musical pallet. I get that he's trying something new, and I think that's great, but the song just isn't that strong. It sounds like he thought of the riff and didn't know what else to do to make the song longer. But I think it fits well with the rest of the album, despite it's being completely different.

More similar to Ambivalence Avenue is the track Light Seep, a clear call-back to the funkadelic Jealous of Roses. Unfortunately it doesn't manage to match up to the brilliance of Jealous of Roses, but it's still a great track. My favorite song from the album though, is the opener Excuses. It opens the album with eerie noise and rain, until the beat starts up, and Wilkinson's hazy vocals come in, and at about 4:20, the beat goes whack and the track gets awesome. Anything New is another favorite, although the noise gets overbearing towards the end. The song Pretentious starts off so perfectly, until the vocals come into the mix and screw up the vibe. Wilkinsons vocals on this one sound a little too overdone. Plus the song sort of gets tedious with an overusage of electronics and repeating melodies. The last minute features a very nice sax solo, though. Artists' Valley sounds much too muddled, and Mind Bokeh starts out great, but fails to go anywhere after that. The last song Saint Christopher is a much needed 6-an-a-half-minute breath of fresh air, and a track that you can get lost in the beauty of.

Simplicity is something that this album needs, but doesn't lack completely. What it lacks is the really memorable melodies that previous Bibio albums had. It's blissfully all over the place, like Ambivalence Avenue, but it's a little too eccentric and harder to warm up to. This is in no way a complete disappointment, but it's nothing to go nuts about.

1. Excuses
2. Pretentious
3. Anything New
4. Wake Up!
5. Light Seep
6. Take Off Your Shirt
7. Artists' Valley
8. K is for Kelson
9. Mind Bokeh
10. More Excuses
11. Feminine Eye
12. Saint Christopher



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I totally agree with the reviewer. It starts out great! First 3 tracks had me really looking forward to what would come next. Pretty much a letdown after that.
    "It sounds like he thought of the riff and didn't know what else to do to make the song longer" I feel that way about most of this album. He just seems to be doing what he can to make a song longer while not having it really go anywhere and/or not adding enough depth to make it interesting. Giving it a 6.5 based on 3-5 good songs is really generous though.

  3. I agree with a lot of your points. My full thoughts are in my review on my blog:


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