What Will We Be - Devendra Banhart

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25
  1. Banhart's persona emerges intact despite the mainstream sound, however, and What Will We Be becomes a pleasantly fresh album to follow the ponderous, sprawling "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon."
  2. It’s not surprising that What Will We Be sounds, then, like a relaxed, slightly crisper take on the ideas that informed his previous release. This haze of lazy Tropicalia, occasionally interrupted by an indulged moment of proggy vamp, isn’t necessarily a compromise.
  3. More focused on offering Banhart's international and oddball bona fides than crafting songs that feel at all like home, What Will We Be finds Banhart in need of direction and editing.
  4. 60
    What Will We Be stands as a fittingly ambiguous, partly frustrating and altogether fascinating response to that question. Call it artful artlessness, or vice versa.
  5. Mark this down as the point which we can say with certainty for the first time Devendra Banhart is here for the long run. [Nov 2009, p.113]
  6. 60
    For every throughly relised composition, there is a meandering fragment, great only as far as it goes. [Nov 2009, p.90]
  7. The sixth studio album by Devendra Banhart is the best he's ever made. What Will We Be is also great enough in patchouli-scented spurts to suggest that the 28-year-old singer-songwriter's defining classic is one more record and a little more focus away.
  8. Butler’s done well to harness the fuller ideas first explored on "Smokey" but, in doing so, has sacrified raw Devendra for something just a bit too, well, Bees-y.
  9. On this, his major-label bow, the (now beardless!) prince of freak-folk has harnessed his many left-field tics and energies to craft his most elegantly driven work yet.
  10. It's easy to lay the rap on Banhart's drifting towards the middle of the road with the fuller, whole-band sound he's embraced, or the bigger labels or the greater notoriety, but the fault clearly lies with Banhart himself, who has become a lot easier to understand. [Fall 2009, p.56]
  11. One can't escape the feeling that, for a writer and performer of Banhart's undoubted talents, this album sees him rather treading water, and failing to match the originality of his persona with correspondingly original or engaging material.
  12. There’s some interest to be found but for the most part he displays a real lack of daring.
  13. 70
    A big improvement over 2007's ho-hum "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon," it's also the most consistently satisfying full-length he's made.
  14. Maybe he's listening a little too closely to his spirit animal, but either way, the guy sure sounds inspired. [30 Oct 2009, p.58]
  15. Tellingly, 'Angelika' and 'Maria Leonza' only get comfortably loose and silly when halfway finished. With a Strokes-y guitar part and a driving backbeat, the innovative '16th & Valencia, Roxy Music' is hopefully what Banhart will be in the future. [Dec 2009, p.108]
  16. What Will We Be is a better, more realized album, but it’s still a dud, filled with mediocre, half-composed songs and tediously unfocused songwriting.
  17. What once made Banhart such a strange bird--roaming from jazz to folk to indie pop, often within a single song, as on the impossibly catchy 'Chin Chin & Muck Muck'--now seems almost mainstream, as if the rest of the pop world has not only caught up with him, but left him in its dust.
  18. Some will be sad to find that his pulsating vocals and wacky storytelling have subsided, and that his vague lyrics have grown simpler. But anyone who’s avoided Banhart’s hippy-busker tunes now have a reason to give him a chance.
  19. Through supplementation and wider instrumentation, he's traded in quiet haunting oddness for drowsy tranquil oddness, an exchange that may at some time pay better dividends than it does here.
  20. Banhart clearly gets bogged down in that freedom, as the amount of sheer hokiness on some of his albums can attest to. But with What Will We Be, Banhart gets back to earning that right for total creative freedom.
  21. Aside from the average genre stabs, What Will We Be is a surprisingly sullen and ponderous album. Absent is Banhart’s mania, the zaniness that he always seemed barely able to contain.
  22. 84
    A basement-made bundle of hypnotic unpredictability, this one looks to be a grower.
  23. He filches from a variety of genres--Brazilian Tropicalia, glam rock, lounge jazz, Zeppelin-like psychedelia--but it never sounds awkward. He loosens the stitches on each to fashion his own unique costume.
  24. Even when Banhart seems more in a predicament than in the zone, he’s hopelessly inventive. Several songs experience complete transformations over their modest three-minute spans, succeeding like little daybreaks.
  25. This time the quintet holed up for two months in a Northern California cabin, and the resulting collection from the idiosyncratic singer/songwriter is intimate, experimental, and ultimately accessible.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Apr 2, 2011
    This is an album that cannot be skimmed through. Listening to each individual is a treat to the ears- they start off slow and soft, but there's always a twist towards the middle and end, such as Chin Chin Muck Muck. First Song for B is the best example of this. The end is absolutely beautiful and heart felt. WWWB is a fantastic album- it is still very Banhart, though the development expected from artists who have created several albums is clear. Full Review »
  2. Apr 14, 2013
    My favourite album by Devendra Banhart, filled with lush sounds and influences. It's perhaps not as fluid, with some songs "jumping" to another but it certainly doesn't get you off your cloud. For some people it might be considered a grower, I had the luck to fall instantly in love with it. Full Review »
  3. Aug 14, 2011
    First I wasn't sure about WWWB, he has some amazing albums and this one sounded a bit different, but its an inspiration. Whether its the music or the lyrics the albums positive message jingles and jangles along, Foolin, Chin Chin and Rats are especially good. Sometimes it can sound a little drawn out but it grows on you as you realise the Devendra worldly style. Full Review »