Spanish quartet Melenas channel a half-century of pop goodness on Dias Raros | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Spanish quartet Melenas channel a half-century of pop goodness on Dias Raros 

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click to enlarge Melenas


Mirari Echavarri

Pamplona, Spain, is probably best known for the festival of San Fermín, when thrill seekers run with bulls through the streets—which usually ends much worse for the animals than the humans. The four women in Melenas may not pull as big a crowd as that globally famous event, but on their new second album, Dias Raros (Trouble in Mind), they offer 11 better reasons to remember their hometown’s name. The band’s sound adheres to a template established by garage-rock combos in the 1960s and productively renewed by acts such as Yo La Tengo, Stereolab, and the late, very great New Zealand group Look Blue, Go Purple. Melenas lay trebly, reverberant guitar and alternately drony and punchy keyboard licks over simple, propulsive rock beats, and draw you in with simple, catchy vocal hooks. Since the songs are all in Spanish (the lyrics are printed, but not translated, on the album’s inner sleeve), listeners not conversant in the language might not be able to tell that guitarist Oihana and bassist Leire are singing about internal dialogues. But you don’t need to understand a word to catch the happy-sad vibe that spikes Melenas’ graceful melodies.   v

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