8 July, 2020

Melenas – Dias Raros

In a world where a trip to the supermarket becomes both something to do, an anxiety inducing pain in the arse, and somehow even more tedious than ever before we could do with a bit of cheering up. What better way to do that than a second album of psyche tinged garage-pop from Spanish quartet Melenas, via Trouble In Mind?

Sophomore effort ‘Dias Raros’ kicks off with Primer Tiempo; a droney retro pop ditty. It sits somewhere between Jonathan Richman’s ‘Roadrunner’ and Andreas Dorau & Die Marinas brillianty kitschy psychedelic new wave hit ‘Fred Vom Jupiter’ with some absolutely gorgeous overlapping vocal harmonies. The song juxtaposes a robotic deadpan with an undeniable warmth.

Following this up No Puedo Pensar is more straight forward. It buzzes along a bit like The Strokes when they liked each other a bit more, combining a sweet melody, simple drums, jangling guitars and 80s synth twiddles. Perfect pop.

29 Grados slows the pace, with dreamy Galaxie 500-esque jangle pop. There’s tons of space in the mix with synth drones, drums and guitars caked in reverb and a prominent bassline. It feels a lot more expansive than its relatively short 2 minutes 34 seconds.

Despertar’s wavering paisley keyboards, Pastels guitar and trippy rhythm is infused with hypnotic gentle psychedelia. They even make time for a woozy backwards guitar solo.

Centrepiece El Tiempo Ha Pasado brings back that slow Galaxie 500 style dream pop. There is a simplicity and beauty that brings to mind those wonderful soft Georgia Hubley led Yo La Tengo songs. It’s full of understated charm. There’s a satisfying lo-fi quality to the variable oscillation of the organ sound, that gently clips throughout. This marks the point where the band seem to kick into a different gear.

Los Alemanes has a delightful bounce and sense of fun in the melody akin to Clementine March or Stereolab. It’s almost comical.

3 Segundos ups the pace further with almost Neu!-like garage pop. The tight driving rhythm and heavily phasing guitar are accompanied by entertaining vocal interplay that marks this out as a highlight. They retain this fidgety pace on Ciencia Ficción, adding handclaps to the mix.

Melenas clearly have a good understanding of when to up the pace but also of when to let things breathe.

En Madrid is perhaps the most dynamically sophisticated song on the album. It starts slow, building up to a driving rhythm and giving way before introducing some fabulous textures. The guitars towards the end whip up a frenzy of robotic flange and phaser that sound like they could burst through the speakers and out of the window at any moment.

Ya No es Verano has a Vaselines or Pastels jangle that does, however, almost get lost. This is due to its consistency following the relative dynamic acrobatics of the previous track. They round off the album with the sublime Vals, which introduces lush vibraphone sounds, a swaying guitar line oddly reminiscent of Butthole Surfers’ “Perry” (although is nowhere near as acid fried) and more of those sleepy soft vocals.

Melenas have produced something quite special here. A breezy album perfectly timed for this extended period of looking out the window, reflecting on this seemingly never ending sunshine. Dias Raros indeed!

Dias Raros is out now via Trouble In Mind.

You may enjoy this if you like Primo!, Pega Monstro, Yo La Tengo, Galaxie 500, Parsnip, Clementine March, Stereolab, Vaselines

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