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Baio – Sunburn EP album review

It’s impossible not to compare Baio with Vampire Weekend, most obviously because Baio’s sole member, and namesake, is Chris Baio, Vampire Weekend’s bassist. On the “Sunburn” EP, Baio moves away from the indie pop ensemble he’s best known for and adventures into mixing and DJing. The result echoes the most useful aspects of his previous work: the tunefulness, the buoyancy and the effortless musicality.

Released on May 12, 2012, the “Sunburn” EP moves fluidly through three tracks of melodic, upbeat dance music. Baio’s style is surprisingly subtle; the songs are cheerful and catchy without being overly poppy. You’ll find yourself tapping your toe or nodding your head to the beat, not breaking out into a giddy flash mob. The tracks express an obvious optimism, but the overall softness of the music adds a dimension of muted joy.

The entire album, but especially leading track “Sunburn Modern,” would not be out of place at an urban luau. Melodic handclaps, steel drumming and characteristically electronic beats work together to give voice to a distinctive moment, manipulated to create a harmonious narrative out of seemingly incongruous components.

If there’s an issue with Baio’s sound, it’s that the tracks are too similar to one another. They bleed together in a way that undermines the immense amount of time Baio spent constructing each track. He plays effortlessly with a myriad of instruments and sounds—rhythmic tambourine, truncated chanting, hard piano lines—that are distinctive enough to be picked out of the overall melody. But when these effects are used multiple times across multiple tracks in such a sparse frame, the music isn’t allowed to progress, to evolve.

Baio’s “Sunburn” EP is a great summer playlist. He mixes an endless array of recordings to fashion the ultimate beachy dance soundtrack. If Vampire Weekend plays during the afternoon beach party, then Baio arrives after the sun’s gone down and the bonfire’s started up. After all, if you don’t survive summer without at least a little burn, then you’re not doing it right.

By Natalie Howard

In a fit of teenage angst, Natalie Howard moved from Glendale, CA to New York City for college. She stuck around after graduation and currently eats and sleeps in the East Village.

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