MAS MEJOR, PIYAMA PARTY
Independiente, Mexico ****
By Carlos Reyes
Piyama Party’s second LP comes in at full force to claim a spot as one of the year’s rock albums. In fact, I think this is my second favorite album ever included on the Delhotel Records catalog, after Los Gandharvas of course. It’s not as unexpected as one would think; their self-titled debut was a standout but it’s clear they have been polishing their craft capturing the scene around them, they’re also the first Mexican band to sound like Spain’s indie rock virtuosos, from Sr. Chinarro, AMA and very much the entire catalog from Gramaciones Grabofonicas and Producciones Doradas, with that said, this is an album mostly about stories, which requires lyrical efficiency and a ‘pure’ human touch that is able to keep these anecdotes (whether true or not) at bay. This is ultimately Piyama Party’s most attractive virtue; their songs are reachable without sounding less complex than the progressive-wall-of-sound acts around.
Someone not familiarized with the Mexican culture will not contemplate Mas Mejor at its fullest; it’s a lot more than a generalized survey, even the album’s title would be hard o swallow. Let’s not tag these songs as part of a subculture, they are part of the big picture outsiders hardly visualize and I get a feeling much of Mexico’s population would neglect too. Being part of the culture is the last thing on their mind, becoming part of a cult however is a consequence of their genuine pop and rock songs. So let’s get to it already. The opener “Nosotros Los Rockers” is a bittersweet manifesto to anyone who has been on a band; it really puts the audience at the same level by telling us about their bootleg disc by The Strokes and their need for guitars and a new amplifier. It really establishes an eye-level agreement that is respected all throughout the album. In the next track “Jesus en Las Vegas” they claim Jesus is at a box match, with Maria Magdalena toasting for world peace, love and rocanrol. First single “Solo te veo en bodas” handles its romance with prolific care, plus “quedate al menudo” (common dish the morning after a wedding) has to be one of the best lines of the year.
There’s humor in every song, fortunately they are no clowns but practitioners of self-destructive criticism and sarcasm, from “No Mas Pasteles” about an overweight issue, to the phenomenon of la “Frontera” which warns that the bridge is falling and ends up telling us the prices of meat at Ruteria La Hacienda. But there’s nothing like “Fan de Carcass”, I wouldn’t be scared to call it an immediate classic and one of the most alluring songs of the year. It’s the fable on how a guy became a hardcore fan of Carcass after listening to one of their cassettes, this encounter redefines him completely, and he goes dark! “dicen que son cosas del Diablo, por eso me gustan, por eso yo las prefiero.” They decide to skip purgatory in “Atajo al Infierno”, taking a shortcut by having more fun and less time for Church.
“Edecan” sounds quite dusty with its circular strings, it’s like a criminal poignant romance with some narco references hidden in there (or not). But the established practice doesn’t always work, “Olimpiadas Alveolares” and “Tocayo” drown around memorable songs and are even obstructive to the overall adventure. I was scared to hear how they would close this, the culminating “21 horas no son suficientes” is the most hormonal and effortlessly moving piece on the album. Mas Mejor needs some vocal dexterity here and there, perhaps fewer songs, but this is a material to hold on to. Piyama Party has found a way to keep a pedestrian sensitivity while sounding like rock stars; it comes in a folder with 17 tracks inside, a beautiful booklet (on PDF) and one of the most generous musical offerings 2009 keeps for us.