After making a name for himself as an indie rock sideman with Feist, Afie Jurvanen strikes out on his own with Pink Strat, the debut album from his solo project Bahamas. With a sparse and contemplative blend of indie folk and alt-country, Jurvanen opts to let his guitar and sleepy vocals do a lot of the heavy lifting, steering away from lush production in favor of a more intimate sound. This rawer sound, combined with his careful ear for melody and guitar abilities, helps to set Bahamas apart from the affable folk-pop of someone like Jack Johnson. Every song always has just enough going on in it to be interesting, but remains understated, like the lazy drawl of “Try, Tried, Trying,” which gently plods forward on the strength of Jurvanen’s bluesy guitar work. In a number of ways, Jurvanen evokes the great Randy Newman, bringing his sense of humor to songs like the sweetly mean-spirited “Hockey Teeth” and the blunt heartache of “You’re Bored, I’m Old.” Songs like these show a songwriter who's willing to tell it like it is without sugar coating things for the sake a nice pop ending, adding a sense of realism to the songs that you’re not likely to find in such an otherwise sweet package, and making Pink Strat a great debut for this sideman looking to step into the spotlight.
Gregory Heaney, Rovi