Review: Devendra Banhart, ‘What Will We Be’

Review: Devendra Banhart, ‘What Will We Be’: Aidin Vaziri | Those who thought Devendra Banhart went off the deep end with his robust Elvis impressions and kooky musings on “Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon” two years ago will want to approach his latest with caution. On his major-label debut and sixth full-length album, “What Will We Be,” the sometime San Francisco singer-songwriter pulls his own “Judas!” moment, dispensing almost completely with the spacey folk sound that defined him and forging further into the vortex where Jim Morrison, Caetano Veloso, Led Zeppelin, Donovan and any number of Haight Street philosophers share a hash pipe. How many people can put on a straight face to deliver a line such as, “Look at the neighbors with the long, long hair/ Making their money at a Renaissance Faire”? Meanwhile, the music swells with a wobbly mix of twinkling pianos and amateur doo-wop harmonies, while evocative acoustic guitars drift in and out of the haze. It’s not strictly for people who wear caftans, but it’s certainly not for everybody. To Banhart’s advantage, there are enough moments of unparalleled beauty in tracks such as “First Song for B,” “Maria Lionza” and the gorgeous “Meet Me at Lookout Point” to bring even his most far-out cosmic flights back to Earth.

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