With the release of Sad Hunk by Bahamas, Afie Jurvanen makes the transition from cool grooves to self-aware dad jams. It is a glorious transformation.
The incredible 2018 album Earthtones saw Jurvanen exploring R&B-style soulful grooves, a new direction for Bahamas that led to a Grammy nomination and two Juno awards. Sad Hunk sees him sinking into this new style, while shedding any pretenses and embracing a humbling authenticity.
Musically, Sad Hunk is very much in line with the musical style of Earthtones – tight rhythm and crisp production on songs characterized by clean, muted guitar licks, slick beats, and soft harmonies. “Up With The Jones” is a highlight here, with a toe-tapping beat, alt-country instrumentation, and a narrative arc about the emptiness of consumerism, money, and the need for more.
Lyrically, we see Jurvanen at his most tender and authentic. No longer a musician trying to be “cool,” he is simply a father, a husband, and a man wrestling with the complexities of growing older. While this theme is present throughout the whole album, it is most obvious in the simple jam “Not Cool Anymore.” Rather than mourning this loss of ‘cool,’ Jurvanen seems to celebrate the change.
Opening track “Trick To Happy” is another perfect example of Jurvanen’s mid-life crisis indie blues. He sings,
“Am I wasting my time?
/Is there some trick to being happy?/
Most days I’m feeling like a half me /
And feel that life is moving past me.”
The most poignant moment of the whole album comes on album closer “Wisdom of the World.” After a fiery Hendrix-style guitar solo, soft instrumentation emerges and Jurvanen softly sings “I guess the whole thing’s about forgiveness.” It feels honest, tender, and real, both a prayer and a confession.
Both musically and lyrically, this is the most comfortable that Jurvanen has ever sounded. On “Can’t Complain,” Jurvanen sings, “Forget just trying to survive/I’m only doing that which makes me feel alive.” Confidence is found in contentment.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: BAHAMAS – SAD HUNK