Released: 29th January 2021
Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio’s third solo offering, ‘Dead Hand Control’ takes its name from both a rumoured soviet missile system and a piece of will and testament legality, bringing a certain sense of dread. Focusing on society in turmoil, the album takes you on a journey of anxiety and worry while somehow retaining a blatant undertone of optimism – a perfect parallel to the 2020 so many of us have experienced, with some catchy hooks thrown in for good measure.
Taking influence from the realms of funk, techno, and art rock, the album spans an eclectic mix of genres. Recorded between Damon Albarn’s 13 Studios in London and Chris’ own C&C Music Factory in L.A., there is a definite transatlantic feel. The Pulp-esque ‘What Do You Say When I’m Not There’ brings a much-needed injection of energy, while tracks like ‘Never Never Never’ show that Baio hasn’t quite left his indie roots at the door.
The album comes to a close with the dreamy ‘O.M.W.’ – a co-write with fellow Vampire Weekend veteran Ezra Koenig. Spanning an immense 9 minutes, the track brings an ending that looks positively to the future despite all of the hurt and panic depicted throughout.
Ultimately, ‘Dead Hand Control’ is an indulgent listen, tackling worrisome topics while remaining hopeful and romantic. Behind all of the synth chords and nostalgia lies an existential awakening, bringing a sense of optimism to the darkest of moments – and isn’t that what we really need?