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Devendra Banhart

What Will We Be (XL)

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Devendra Banhart's latest, What Will We Be, might leave long-time fans scratching their heads, perplexed at the change in direction. Perhaps even more abrupt than The Shepherd's Dog was for hardcore Iron & Wine fans, it represents a dramatic shift away from the hardcore psych-folk---the devotion to stark acoustics and hyper-emphasized vibrato that defined Banhart's eccentricity---to a plushier, polished aesthetic. While not entirely a push for radio-friendly ("Angelika" is off-kilter, like his old self), this is the first time that Banhart occasionally sounds like other musicians. "Can't Help But Smiling," for instance, is nearly a Beck tune. Slightly uneven, but not unfocused or uninteresting, Banhart certainly keeps you guessing.

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