Baio: The Names (Glass Note)

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Baio: Needs
Baio: The Names (Glass Note)

Not to be confused with small-screen star Scott, Chris Baio -- bassist with Vampire Weekend -- here gets playful and poppy (the bright Sister of Pearl) with this debut solo album.

It mines a small but rewarding vein of electro-pop in the manner of Hot Chip, but he comes off his own man with deft funk flourishes, subtle allusions to world music-cum-disco (the lengthy opening overs of I Was Born in a Marathon), and a warmly expressive voice which suits these polished songs.

Like a New Romantic with a better record collection, Baio throws in glistening ripples of keyboards across chugging synths, and sometimes comes off like New Order if they'd been born nearer the equator.

He adds just enough of the wonk factor (the woozy effects on Matter, the abrasive crosscut slash on Scarlett) to keep these songs from sliding into mainstream blandness, and every so often the ghost of quivering Bowie of the mid Seventies or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark a decade later come to mind.

So smart and referential stuff, not anything to hold the front page for but a highly enjoyable outing which at just 40 minutes invites warm weather repeat play.

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