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Four years ago, Californian twee-poppers Avi Buffalo managed to capture the spirit of the dog days of summer in their magnificent self-titled debut. It explored the confusion and angst of first serious love, the unknown future, and everything else someone on the cusp of adulthood might worry about, all set against a backdrop of those last summer holidays of freedom. It wasn't an album of nostalgia, harkening back to those half-remembered days, this was actually happening at that time for Avi Buffalo, becoming a somewhat semi-autobiographical look at lead singer Avi Zahner-Isenberg's life at the time. It was a beautiful album that was not only lyrically rich, the often surreal lyrics perfectly showing the attempt to organise ideas and thoughts at such a confusing time, but also sonically wonderful; full of hazy guitars and relaxed rhythms, it breezily floated along in an almost dream like state.

For Avi Buffalo's second album, At Best Cuckold, they've moved out through the hazy summer and into the malaise of autumn. But with that progression, they seem to have lost all the charm that made their debut such a wonderful record. Kicking out the hazy guitars in favour of Rufus Wainwright-esque piano ballads, such as on 'She Is Seventeen', and a more psychedelic vibe, things just seem to plod along without any real purpose. Album opener, 'So What', does feel close to the Avi Buffalo of summers past but, this time, seen through the eyes of Ben Gibbard. The rest of the album sees Zahner-Isenberg trying to emulate the psychedelic weirdness of The Flaming Lips, right down to an impersonation of Wayne Coyne on the likes of 'Two Cherished Understandings' and 'Memories Of You'.

There are some highlights here, though. 'Overwhelmed With Pride' is a beautiful little track, made even more so by the delicate brass section, which wouldn't sound too out of place on their debut. 'Oxygen Tank' begins as a track that many would probably just skip over, yet another pretty bland attempt to emulate The Flaming Lips, but, around the midway point, a prog-rock, Pink Floyd-esque guitar solo kicks in that blows the rest of the song out of the water. It isn't exactly Avi Buffalo's seven minute opus, 'Remember Last Time', but it's not a solo to be sniffed at.

The rest of the album just seems to tread the same ground as the first album, but not doing anything more exciting to keep you interested and invested. Lyrically, Zahner-Isenberg seems to be trying to hit the same beats as on the previous album, but always aiming just a little bit off, creating something that just isn't anywhere near as satisfying. Couple that with the thick layer of autumnal malaise slathered over everything, blocking out the hazy, summery feel that Avi Buffalo can do so well - and that occasionally does break through as on 'Overwhelmed With Pride' - and you have an album that shows promise but doesn't quite go anywhere; even more disappointing considering just how incredible their debut record was. At Best Cuckold is much like the autumnal vibe it tries to project in that, like autumn, you don't mind its existence but you kind of just want to go back to that excellent summer again.

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