This is the kindest 66 rating that you will ever read. Please believe me. The following words are not meant as a severe slight; just as the airing of precious, pragmatic criticism.
I’m sure we’ve all encountered a situation when we hear an album that shares a wide variety of musical attributes with many of our favorite records. If you were to hear about said music in the theoretical sense, you’d jump at the chance to listen to it; you might even shell out $10 to purchase it off of iTunes (particularly if Rapidshare is dicking you around that day). Then one day, you have the opportunity to hear said record. It sounds right in line with the theoretical form that you had in your head, but it just doesn’t register. It has all the right ingredients, but the product still doesn’t taste like what you thought you had ordered. That’s what makes Revolución Solar so disappointing. It’s the aural equivalent of a knit v-neck sweater, chambray button-up, and twill tie outfit…stylish, yes, but it won’t be mistaken for a power suit.
Regardless, that other outfit is still dashing under the right circumstances. The 1-2 opening salvo of “Grito Tu Nombre” and “Revolución Solar” are melancholic yet pulsating pieces of indie guitar pop that match up with the best that Portland has to offer. The “aahhhh-ooowhoa”’s of the latter track in particular are almost kinetic in execution; it’s definitely worth a couple of spins by itself. By the album’s mid-section, the initial burst of energy seems to wane, as “El Fin de Mundo” and “Nerium Oleander” blend into a sort of hazy meandering, sounding suspiciously like Laura Veirs when she’s going through the motions. Things begin to charge up again on “En las Batallas” and “Media Cielo de Revolución,” but aside from some nice guitar work, these are pretty much hit or miss. Luckily, we then read the hidden gem of this album, the excellently titled “A la Tercera Va la Vencida.” Sounding like a cross between Natalia Lafourcade and the Postmarks, this is buoyant, complex, and downright lovely piece of sunny pop.
That last sentence is not to say that Charades are necessarily aping other bands on this record. They obviously have a viable M.O., one where pop music can be fun, frivolous, experimental, and serious, simultaneously. As finished, this album certainly points in that direction, but for this young band from Madrid, their tiny sound has yet to catch up to their mega-large ambition. Luckily, all they need is the right spices, because they’ve certainly got all the ingredients.