EL PRIMERO ERA MEJOR, MANOS DE TOPO
Sones, Spain ****
By Carlos Reyes
Call it over dramatization, a painful throat soaring or a pretentious attention-gather tool, but Miguel Angel Blanca, the vocalist of Manos de Topo, brings the best and the worst of an approach to achieve originality. Definitely a hate it or love it band; it’s erratic, bizarre, dramatic, unique and even pointless, when do these harsh defining terms become an artistic virtue? Manos de Topo is quite a challenge, in the one hand its vocalization puts up a big concrete wall that leaves very few space to sneak in for a further examination of the lyrics and instrumentation, but it also allows the listener to enter one of the most bizarre places Iberoamerican music has taken us, and that by itself is merit of recognition. The band is clearly setting up a musical parade, working with stages and costumes their interpretation of an exaggerated universe where everything breaks apart tragically and love is not something to pursue but to cry for. Here is the catch, before turning away from the initial unattractive impression, acclimate to what is offered, it’s not a matter of accepting it but tolerating it until its true beauty pops up. As the lyrics start building up a genuine space of phrases, the instrumentation hugs and embraces our vocalist in the best possible way, as if the lyrics and music were two protective parents catching up to the peculiar personality one of their many kids happened to develop. In the title El Primer Era Mejor, they make fun of themselves, and it’s a recurrent tool throughout the album, it’s their way to try to make sense of a thing called deception and let’s be frank, don’t deceptive drunk people sound like this when they’re intoxicated? I don’t think the overall musical proposal is as surreal as they think it is, but it sure sounds baroque on tracks like “Ejercito Ruso” and “Vacaciones a Corea del Norte.” The musical texture in “Libros de Autoayuda” sustains its narrative, feels monstrously cute, just as “El Pollo Frito” is sympathetic, “the fried chicken wanted to learn how to fly.” While “Ahora te sientes mejor verdad” is all about disgust and discomfort, and “Ciencias Exactas” is straightly raw and questions what the precise sign of affection is, and how much one is willing to sacrifice for that affection to take the next step, “a bear’s hug can kill another bear.” The first single “Logico que salga mal” is a loud mesmerizing piece, an epic culmination that gets everything right, works as a satire and stamps the overall feeling of these songs.