¿Donde Están Las Jugueterías? La Reina Morsa
By Carlos Reyes
Breakthrough Chilean band La Reina Morsa crafts a cold picnic full of emotional empathy in their debut album ¿Donde Están Las Jugueterías? (not be confused with ¿Donde Jugaran Las Niñas? or ¿Donde Están Los Ladrones?). The album parallels an outside excursion, with a voyage around a winter house; both worlds converged through animalistic motifs and adolescent coming-of-age themes. Hence the irony of the album title, La Reina Morsa is on the search of the place that will house their loopy ideas. Just like they do in their cunningly titled “Sentemonos en el pasto a esperar que las hormigas nos vengan a comer.” Before you assume this is some kind of extravagant tribal adventure, know this is closer to an emo girl’s fantasy of her future: isolated, dreamy, and transitory.
Although an extremely young band, La Reina Morsa skips the conventional pop melodious first record, a la …and the Jellyfish Parade (Hello Seahorse!) or Bruno EP (Jovenes y Sexys), this is a darker and a much more experimental record. It lingers between its own composition and confusion, not every song is functional, but every piece has unprecedented charm. The wonderful (if misguiding) single “Fiesta Pequeña” is the band’s great first impression. It’s a bit too upbeat to set the tone of the album, but it unveils the set of notions they bring into the table; imagining domestic setting with outside wild visitors. They get away with such feral terms by embedding tropical season to a very melancholic base. La Reina Morsa succeeds not because of an extraordinary execution, but for the choices they make.
La Reina Morsa may seem delicate, but they play so much around it’s hard to read their influences. It’s difficult to know where they’re going, and that’s exciting. “Mandarinas y Limones” captures the band’s ability to be all over the place (techno, country & a wall of sound) and still deliver thoughtful, heart-warming pieces. The instrumental pieces aren’t very stimulating, but “Caballito” is a clever samba and a cousin of Calle 13’s “La Jirafa.” Lyrically, the most fascinating track is the secular “El Arca,” a modernized revision of the Noah’s Ark mission not only for animals, for indigenous people too. A solid debut for a very likeable band that just might save us from the flood some day.