Bayard Russell | Selftitled (s/r)

cd_bayard-russell.jpgSelftitled samples generously from the spice rack of genre as Russell seeks to uncover his musical identity.





Bayard Russell’s musical concoctions are best described by the concept of flavor. Selftitled, his debut album, samples generously from the spice rack of genre as he seeks to uncover his musical identity. Somewhere between techno-indie and alternative-pop, Russell exhibits no shyness in self-discovery. Furthermore, Russell’s self-proclaimed influences are prominent throughout the album. The suggestion of John Mayer’s palliative vocals are present in the delivery of his lyrics. Jack Johnson’s fun pop influence trickles blithely into "Uh Huh," a sweetly misbehaved musical delectability. Russell further samples from The Postal Service’s electro-pop sound throughout the duration of the album, integrating it consistently into his creations.

His lack of genre definition is both interesting and admirable as he integrates the eclectic sounds that begin to define him as an artist. Russell tinkers with a techno-indie sound while divulging the embarrassing circumstance of "Living at My Mom’s." In "I Know," Russell experiments with something folkish-flutish, which later blends into the rhythm of novelty hip-hop. These experimentations were clearly only the beginning of the process, as "I Will Chase You" might have borrowed its eight-bit intro sound from the early Nintendo era. If Russell’s goal in the creation of Selftitled was to create something unusual and unique, he succeeded triumphantly.

However, while this debut musical collaboration is a delightfully entertaining cocktail of genres, it admittedly takes a few listens to develop a true sense of appreciation for it. One must first separate himself from the lyrical maturity of pubescent teenage drama. A little cutesy and mildly disturbing, "My Heartbreak" projects mild despondence rather than the genuine sorrow and loss the title implies. "Crazy for You" emanates the cliché that is Young Love as Russell croons, "We should have dozens of kids/ And name them all after you/ And we should live in a castle in a kingdom also named after you." Stylistically, Russell is fortunate, because lyrically, Selftitled is a compilation of 11 songs that form an uninteresting and over-told plot.

Perhaps Russell will find his niche if he concocts a hybrid of the fun pop sound of "Uh Huh" and the exemplary piano skills he portrays in "Uptown Harbor." A trained pianist since the age of four, it would make sense that this musician focus more energy on his forte.  However, that is not to say that his initial collaboration is entirely without merit. Once Russell has had the opportunity to further explore both life and his sense of musical style, and has something more interesting to say about his heartbreak in another five years, he will undoubtedly grow as an artist. C+ | Amanda Pelle

RIYL: The Postal Service, The Decemberists, The Chemical Brothers

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