• Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Release Date: Mar 12, 2013
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
    76
    Mala is Banhart's best record in nearly a decade--largely because it's his loosest and funniest.
  3. Mar 7, 2013
    80
    A thrillingly inventive blend of alt.rock, fingerpicking folk, Latin flavours and--new this--electronic pop. [Apr 2013, p.67]
  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
    [The songs] are among the most immediate he's recorded. [Apr 2013, p.88]
  6. Mar 12, 2013
    70
    Mala is smoother in its amalgamation, drifty melodies and his classic mumble recorded with gorgeously low-fi-sounding muffle.
  7. Mar 13, 2013
    80
    He's a singularly idiosyncratic and brilliant songwriter, one hitting an arresting stride on this uniformly superb album.
  8. 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.
  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
    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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Apr 16, 2013
    75
    Mala is his finest attempt at not killing momentum by diving down a rabbit hole. [No. 97, p.52]
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. If Mala wasn't conceived as Devendra Banhart's Europhile album, it's doing a damn fine impression of one.
  23. 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 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  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 albumMala 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 whoThis 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. Jun 13, 2015
    6
    Whispered vocals open Mala and this stillness will last throughout the whole record. Devendra Banhart was known for making great psych folkWhispered vocals open Mala and this stillness will last throughout the whole record. Devendra Banhart was known for making great psych folk songs and this album is a cheat sheet of who he is. It's just a soft journey into a surreal world coming from a Marc Chagall's piece of art. There are the usual elements of the songwriter: hypnotic mood, freak attitude and a tolerable songwriting.
    Banhart's style is very similar to Vincent Gallo's "When", a record released by Warp Records in 2001.
    Full Review »