Avi Buffalo Matures on ‘At Best Cuckold’

Avi Buffalo, At Best Cuckold
Out Sept. 9, Sub Pop, avibuffalomusic.com

When Avi Buffalo emerged with its self-titled debut record in 2010, a lot of the buzz surrounded the band’s then-19-year-old songwriter Avi Zahner-Isenberg and the youthful sexual frustration he put into jaunty tunes like “Summer Cum” and “Five Little Sluts.” On this sophomore release, that frustration has morphed into a more refined and mature look at failing in love. Jagged guitar lines and squealing pop hooks are traded here for low, rumbling melancholy. The new tone fits the band surprisingly well, showing growth rather than stagnancy. The arrangements are more lush and refined, as on the serene lead single “So What” with its layers of clean guitars and a slow-moving bass line. The band tones it down even more on “Overwhelmed With Pride,” a subtle arrangement of acoustic guitars and horns with a stirring chorus whereon Zahner-Isenberg sings “And I’m relatively inconspicuously overwhelmed with pride.” Still, there are remnants of the absurdity and wit we heard on the debut. On “Memories of You,” Zahner-Isenberg ecstatically proclaims, “Bitch, I’m on fire/You got magnum desire/I’m a cheeseball on fire ’til the morning dew.” Growing up sometimes means putting childish things to rest, but At Best Cuckold offers listeners an alternative: Instead of changing one’s self entirely, we can change how we approach struggles, love, and loneliness. At 23, Zahner-Isenberg seems to get that more than some twice his age. Mon., Sept. 8, Neumos

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