Quick Take: Mala by Devendra Banhart

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

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.