'Earthtones' by Bahamas album review

Brushfire Records




While Bahamas has always been one to surprise with his music, he really dives into pop wholeheartedly on his fourth record Earthtones. This said, every song uses the catchy and familiar space of the pop to let Afie Jurvanen spring off into a much more bizarre direction, whether it’s lyrically or melodically. Consistently welcoming and intriguing, Jurvanen is setting high expectations for what soul record can be in 2018.

The creepy echo warping that opens the record on “Alone” is surprisingly gripping in its simplicity. Jurvanen’s sparse vocals race and break across the bare production letting the choir harmonies really give the song an emotional punch before the beats take it higher. “Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song)” hits an instant groove, transporting listeners into a vintage high. Riding excitedly on the deep bass and funky guitars, the song really soars every time Jurvanen starts to holler.

There’s a calming sense of certainty on “No Wrong” that makes its more predictable pop grooves more soothing than boring. While it doesn’t ever truly escape its derivative trappings, it truly embraces the cheesy production for something catchy. “Show Me Naomi” subverts a classic rock bass line however for something dark and enticing, with every vocal hook mesmerizing more than the last. As jarring as its dynamic stops during the chorus are, there’s something exciting and unabashed about it that makes it memorable.

“No Expectations” rides a steady bass line, turning its basic hook into a layered joy of harmony and intertwined melodies. All the more hypnotic however is the vocal loop magic that closes the song out in a wave of sampled wonder. The heavy drum stomp that leads “Way With Words” leads you into a rock direction while the song’s soulful vocal styles are constantly guiding somewhere more spiritual and romantic. While Afie seems alone in his lover’s sorrow throughout the verses, the swell of vocals in every chorus create a sense of warmth that say otherwise.

Taking a dark blues and jazz twist on “Bad Boys Need Love Too,” Jurvanen is hilariously self-aware of the song’s grit as he shouts out through every chorus hook and growls in heavy bass. The rap-esque drive of the verses however is a total shock too, using every catchy aspect of the song to push the envelope in his delivery. Breaking free from the chains of popularity and social constructs on “Everything To Everyone” Jurvanen’s magnified lyricism is funny but relatable. Every background vocal hook is invigorating, and Afie’s aggressive delivery makes you want to sing along too.

The slow beat to “So Free” is probably one of the dirtiest percussion lines, making the track intriguing from the get-go. This helps a lot as the song’s slow-burning bloom of energy may prove too dragged-out, as worthwhile as it can be. Jurvanen’s reflection on mental health is refreshing on “No Depression” as he seems unable to find a way to truly cope with his issues. Despite the song’s more worrying lyrics, the hooks and glowing guitar lines really show a beauty that comes out of his darkness. “Any Place” is heartbreaking in its reflective lyricism, making its dower blues all the heavier.

Words by Owen Maxwell

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