Cry Out Loud, Las Robertas
Produccion Automata, Costa Rica
By Carlos Reyes
Skuzzy riffs, cavernous drums and a nosebleed, things you’ll likely to find in Cry Out Loud, the outstanding debut from Costa Rica’s all-girl punk band Las Robertas. Somewhere in between Sonic Youth, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls, the band acquaints tropical fervor as means of idiom, immediately sounding as confident and vigorous as Spain’s punk-tropic bands Triangulo de Amor Bizarro and Veracruz. Las Robertas morphs from a cultural gap (for the good or the bad), one that could justify their English lyrics and their anxiety to dress up lo-fi as 21st century epoch.
Cry Out Loud is comprised of ten mesmeric pieces that go from cold to sweaty, always keeping a cohesive charm that enforces the practice crying out loud as long as one smiles out loud. It’s this kind of fainted subtext that raises Las Robertas from the crowd of punky chicks trying to exemplify today’s riot girl. Perhaps the vocals and personality don’t match up with someone as interesting as Jessy Bulbo or Luxor (Bam Bam, Selma Oxor), but Las Robertas can get away with “sometimes I'll let you treat me wrong” without the absurdities and laughable fume coming out of Le Butcherettes. Just listen to the amazing "Ballroom", and realize the almost effortless force behind it, nothing is forced here, it's just a stretched musical landscape.
“History is Done” lights up the album with a steady, airport-gazing sequence that does a tremendous job of profiling the band. The album keeps a speedy pace all throughout, stopping once in a while to refresh its surrounding airwaves. Such is the case in the well-built chain that makes up “In Between Buses” or the wonderfully fragmented “The Curse.” But it’s “Street Feelings” where the band reveals itself as a major revelation, rocking the moment as well as harmonizing it. The song’s music shows upsetting synchronization with its lyrics, “can’t do you and life again, you know we’ve came to an end… mind shows a place away from you.” The song might not be their “Fantasma de la Trancision” but it’s close to their “Young Adult Friction.”
The album’s production seems to subordinate complexity, letting the band take control to later sustain what they created through a really dense lens. “Damn 92” is the album’s most accessible and commercial piece (along with "Ghost Lover"), in fact, it’s probably the key piece for the band to crossover into the P4k audience. The song is a vengeance on the unforgiving ’92, “Will know my vengeance as all worth while. Think of it now, not quite a sweet child.” Now, if they would only extend their awesome band name and write some songs in Spanish, that would be something… but for now, this is an impressive and engaging debut from four beautiful girls from San José, one that makes them blossom in charisma and music aptitude.