Mala - Devendra Banhart
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Mar 11, 2013
    70
    Apart from the increased cohesion, the quality of the songwriting is far higher, reminding us of the astonishing promise and tossed-off ease of Banhart's early material, and suggesting that his detours into less exciting sounds were just part of a journey that might be much longer and more rewarding than expected.
  2. Mar 12, 2013
    50
    So with equal amounts killer and filler doled out, Mala is a cake that comes across as half-baked.
  3. Mar 12, 2013
    76
    Mala is Banhart's best record in nearly a decade--largely because it's his loosest and funniest.
  4. Mar 11, 2013
    80
    This is a beautiful album that counterpoints Banhart's boundless and surreal imagination against a newly-discovered depth and sincerity. [Apr 2013, p.105]
  5. Mar 7, 2013
    80
    A thrillingly inventive blend of alt.rock, fingerpicking folk, Latin flavours and--new this--electronic pop. [Apr 2013, p.67]
  6. Mar 7, 2013
    80
    [The songs] are among the most immediate he's recorded. [Apr 2013, p.88]
  7. Mar 12, 2013
    70
    Mala is smoother in its amalgamation, drifty melodies and his classic mumble recorded with gorgeously low-fi-sounding muffle.
  8. 60
    A nightmarish listen, but in a good way.
  9. Mar 12, 2013
    75
    Like Banhart’s other albums, Mala loses focus.... Still, there’s plenty of laid-back cool in Mala’s grooves, and even a bit of ’70s Eurodisco flash at one point.
  10. Mar 13, 2013
    80
    He's a singularly idiosyncratic and brilliant songwriter, one hitting an arresting stride on this uniformly superb album.
  11. Mar 11, 2013
    70
    While the highs aren’t quite as high and the lows are quite a bit lower than they have been previously in his career, Mala might just be the grown-up album Devendra Banhart has been waiting a decade to make.
  12. Mar 13, 2013
    70
    Tidy and concise, clocking in at 43 minutes, it favors the diminutive gesture to the cloying, hammy affectation that derailed so much of his prior discography.
  13. Mar 7, 2013
    60
    Almost everything here is pretty good when you sit down and concentrate on it, but there little that jumps up and demands your attention.
  14. Mar 14, 2013
    80
    If he opted to waft round the world for the next three years only to return with another quiet little triumph like this, it would be perfectly acceptable.
  15. 50
    The collection is loosely held together by vintage production, making many tracks feel like distant AM radio transmissions. [Apr 2013, p.86]
  16. 80
    Mala may not stand as the zenith of the man’s catalogue, but it’s a highlight worth exploring and a dreamy journey for the taking.
  17. Mar 12, 2013
    72
    Like most Banhart albums, Mala is often easier to admire fondly than truly love, particularly when the maestro leans closest to his freak-folk roots.
  18. Mar 28, 2013
    60
    It isn’t his most groundbreaking work, but he’s earned the right to relax, and there are far worse albums you could spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with.
  19. Mar 11, 2013
    70
    Mala attests to a discipline that was absent in Banhart's recent, loopier ventures, proving that his eccentric songwriting works best when harnessed in service of good storytelling.
  20. Mar 12, 2013
    80
    While Mala retains an inquisitive aural attitude--there in its markedly electronic palette, and its squirly, scuffly sound--there’s also limberness to this set of songs, a feeling of them all moving happily together.
  21. Mar 11, 2013
    78
    [2009’s What Will We Be's] malady of stylistic disparity has been curbed to the point of what feels like a cohesive body of work.
  22. Apr 9, 2013
    70
    The widening of Banhart’s previously contained and signature sound continues to pay off here, the funky and inviting rubber basslines that are scattered throughout the album particularly memorable.
  23. Mar 11, 2013
    70
    For all its detours, this is a record intoxicated by its own grooves--silken, sexy, a little aimless, and a lot of fun.
  24. Apr 16, 2013
    75
    Mala is his finest attempt at not killing momentum by diving down a rabbit hole. [No. 97, p.52]
  25. Mar 12, 2013
    63
    The indie folk darling's brand of Latin- and electronic-tinged pop yields a broad range of musical and sonic textures here.
  26. 60
    Herein lies the central problem with Devendra Banhart’s latest record; there are moments to savour, but for each of these there’s at least one frustrating or disappointing moment to counteract it.
  27. On Mala he certainly could have done himself some favours by trimming away some lesser moments (particularly the pointless minute long “Mala” or “A Gain”) but there’s certainly a sense that’s he gradually becoming more efficient with his song writing.
  28. 40
    It shifts desultorily from style to style, with songs barely hanging around long enough to state their case.
  29. If Mala wasn't conceived as Devendra Banhart's Europhile album, it's doing a damn fine impression of one.
  30. Jun 4, 2013
    100
    This is Banhart’s best work because it functions as a unit.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Mar 20, 2013
    9
    Mala is what "In Rainbows" is to "OK Computer" glorifying Radiohead fans. In other words, it's a polarising, mature, humorous and bold album with its own emotional and sonic palette. What makes this album especially significant is Devandra's ability to give explicit nods to his 'defining' sound from previous albums while exploring new landscapes with tracks like Für Hildegard von Bingen, A Gain, Taurobolium etc. Overall, a highly recommended listen. Full Review »
  2. Mar 15, 2013
    9
    This is a very enjoyable smooth and moody album that the always unique Devendra Banhart has made. He's been at it now for 10+ years, and who would've thought that this, arguably his best work, would take all of this time to evolve. I thought he'd already done his best work, but he's proved me wrong. Recommended! Full Review »
  3. Apr 14, 2013
    8
    After two albums full of psychedelia, Devendra lifts the acid veil and returns to his roots without sounding dull or desperate for cash. There are innovations, nods to previous work but above all it still makes you want to swing. A guru turned husband showing you settling down isn't all that bad and has its trippy turns too. Let's just hope his future children don't take in too much of his time, this world needs Devendra. Full Review »