You walk through the creaky doors of a grand library. It’s dim, the floor is damp, and every surface is caked with a thick layer of dust. You steadily pace along the sunken tile, each of your footsteps splashing and reverberating through the vast room. When you reach the center, the chamber is engulfed in light. Books begin removing themselves from their shelves and float towards you. Their pages project images on every wall. You watch, and listen . . .
Time has shown that embarking on a solo outing can be risky. It can also result in an enormous payoff, as is the result in the case of this record. The Names is the newest full-length by Chris Baio, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, former DJ, and bassist of Vampire Weekend. He retains his band’s clever, literary songwriting in his compositions, but apart from the lyrics this is Baio’s own unique creation from the top down.
The album is titled after a Don DeLillo novel, and that tells you pretty much all you need to know about its dense lyrical content. Baio is a mastermind with electronics, and he lets his DJ influence seep into the core of each song, so each possesses optimum dance floor-dominating potential. The house/synth pop hybrid on display is in a similar vein as Hot Chip, while the emotive vocals are a stellar tribute to David Bowie and Bryan Ferry.
These nine tracks, clocking in at a quick 38 minutes, are effortlessly consumable and contain components that any kind of music fan can enjoy. Put it on at a party, crank the volume, and watch your surroundings gain momentum; or dedicate a focused listening and unlock all of the treasures stuffed within its tightly bound folds. Good things do come in small packages. If you’re seeking house-tinged synth pop, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)