Tierra, trágalos, Klaus & Kinski
By Blanca Méndez
The genre-defying Spanish group Klaus & Kinski haven’t quite figured out what they’re about. Or maybe they’re not willing to compromise just yet, and that is apparent in their latest album, Tierra, trágalos, which might be as close to a multiple personality disorder diagnosis that an album can get. At times they are bouncy and irreverent like Bam Bam or Capullo, but then they’ll be spacey and wistful like Juan Son or Bat for Lashes, and later on they’ll be elegant and majestic like Beirut. And while that might seem off-putting, in this case it really is the more the merrier.
The album starts with the eerie “Ya estaba así cuando llegué,” a back alley track, complete with steaming sewers and shadow lurkers (watch your back!), that is unnerving in the best possible way and immediately puts you on edge. By the next song you don’t know why you’re so anxious because there’s nothing to be scared of with the griping, yet endearing anti-establishment anthem “Mamá, no quiero ir al colegio,” except maybe growing old and boring, which, come to think of it, is actually quite horrifying. This track is my favorite on the album because I remember burrowing into the covers on many mornings in my high school years and whining that I didn’t want to go to school, as my mother shouted that I was going to miss the bus (which, of course, was exactly what I wanted to happen). I, too, was afraid of growing up and resigning myself to the cycle of soul-sucking work that I thought of as adulthood.
“El Rey del Mambo y la Reina de Saba” is a nostalgic pasodoble nod to the past with a breathy flute accompaniment and syrupy sweet trumpet solo that lingers long after it’s gone, like red wine on your lips or the scent of a lover on your pillow. This transitions surprisingly well into the carnival that is “Carne de Bakunin,” an almost campy up-tempo ode to rebellion and anarchy. Then there’s the funky “Sobria y serena” with the playful bass line and the hushed and ghostly “Ley y moral” and you are taken in so many different directions that you just can’t figure this band out. Who are you, Klaus & Kinski?
The album is a back-and-forth between abrasive power pop and darker, melancholy tunes, between airy disco rock and folk sagas. It’s actually a bit jarring the way the songs are juxtaposed and makes the album feel disjointed upon first listen. Despite this, vocalist Marina Gómez manages to hold it together with the delicate, yet resilient thread of her consistently wispy and beautifully translucent voice. With Tierra, trágalos, Klaus & Kinski demonstrate that it is the versatility of their eclectic sound that is the band’s core strength. And, while this versatility is impressive, a keen editing hand would help them produce more cohesive and digestible albums and take the band to the next level because just because all the songs are fantastic on their own (and they are), doesn’t mean they will make the best album together.