Chris Baio, known for playing bass for Vampire Weekend, has taken a step out on his own, producing a studio album that has been five years in the making. Released under his DJ name, Baio, this is his first full-length album following his two EP’s Sunburn (2012) and Mira (2013). He recently moved from Vampire Weekend’s native New York to London and this experience has had a clear influence on his sound and themes of the album. “I came to in a city still indifferent to me / The big sky can humble, it’s too high to see” is an embodiment of these emotions from his track “Endless Rhythm.” The album opener, “Brainwash yyrr Face,” combines beat riffs and synth layers, which create an extremely relaxed experience while building anticipation for the rest of the album. “The Names” and “Needs” are both faintly reminiscent of Vampire Weekend; however, by the time it comes round to “All the Idiots,” the mood shifts from bright melodies to an infiltrating techscape with hard-hitting, undulating drum tracks. This makes the later track, “Endless Rhythm,” a fresh break from the rest of the album, with its main melody being played on a piano compared to the heavy synth of other tracks. The album ends with the instrumental “Scarlett,” which has an undertone of melancholy covered by a steady harpsichord melody that gives the song a sense of hope. It’s the sort of song that will probably be heard in the next indie teen self-discovery movie.
The one misstep is that the two songs—“Sister of Pearl” and “Endless Rhythm,” which were released over the summer—raised the expectations for the album. Compared to these two singles, the rest of the album lacks a sense of vibrancy;however, the album altogether is cohesive and its beat versatility makes it one to dance, run, or study to. The compilation creates a glacial landscape that would have been the album of the summer had it been released two months earlier.
The Names exhibits Baio’s musical capabilities and personality. His talent is also displayed considering that Baio produced the album himself with help from only a few friends. Baio just delivers to the expectations that stem from his Vampire Weekend connection and he branches off from that by distinguishing himself as his own artist, with his own unique sound.