Quick Take: Mala by Devendra Banhart

L.A.’s prince of freak folk has moved to New York. How’s he sound?

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Sorry, Devendra, we can hardly hear you beneath those scarves. On Mala, his eighth album (Nonesuch Records, $16), L.A.’s prince of freak folk—who, incidentally, just moved to New York—has flashes of invention that validate the whole nouveau shaman thing. He’s playing with vintage hip-hop equipment and there’s a smooth Spanish ballad, but the mellow gulches in between are a challenge to push through. You have to want it. Lucky for him, plenty of people do.

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