Album Review: Bahamas—”Bahamas Is Afie”

By Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

Toronto’s Afie Jurvanen, also known as Bahamas, is back with the (almost) self-titled Bahamas is Afie. Third time proves to be the charm for Jurvanen as he manages to encompass the laid-back groove of 2009’s Pink Strat and the soulfulness of 2012’s Barchords, all while capturing something more personal and seemingly letting the listener catch more of a glimpse of who Afie Jurvanen really is — Bahamas, obviously. Bahamas is Afie (Album Artwork)Jurvanen is a master of creating beauty in simplicity (see: all of Pink Strat), and this quality shines through on “All The Time.” Structurally, the song seems quite simple, but it becomes super cool with the help of hocket-like call and response, arching harmonic swoops, and lots of raw, crunchy guitar work. Some of the album’s more tender cuts, like the sentimental “Can’t Take You With Me,” feature lots of shimmery, ornamental strings, while some of its more overtly upbeat tunes, like “Little Record Girl,” an adorable, infectious tune (I dare you not to sing along with the chorus), and “Stronger Than That,” a feel-good cheer-up anthem, call on Jurvanen’s signature crafty guitar chops. Though this album has delicate moments aplenty, Jurvanen still shreds when the time is right. One of the standout moments on the record is the emotionally-charged “All Time Favourite.” The frisson-inducing backing harmonies that bookend the song are reminiscent of those at the beginning of Bon Iver’s “Lump Sum” — lush, dissonant and sacred-sounding — and at one point, the song reaches a textural and harmonic climax that can only be described as a heavenly burst — a chorus of angels. All in all, Bahamas is Afie is downright pleasant. This record is intimate enough to listen to holed up in your bedroom, yet grand enough to blast on your car’s stereo while driving cross-country. A collection of juxtapositions, it is as happy as it is sad, as breezy as it is heavy, as sparse as it is dense. These elements butt heads but ultimately complement each other really well, and come together to create a great collection of songs. (Brushfire)

Listen to: “All the Time,” “All Time Favourite”

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