A Propósito, Babasónicos
Universal Music Latino, Argentina
Rating: 80 ★★★★
By Carlos Reyes
My first memories in becoming a rock & roll aficionado take me back to my sophomore year in high school (2003), a fortuitous year in every sense of the word. I’m not exactly sure when I started listening to rock, but I remember my twin brother and I would save money to buy the Latin Grammy album compilations, just so that we could listen to the five rock songs they would usually include in their "eclectic" package. At some point in that year we had our first parent talk caused directly by what we were listening to. I guess I can’t blame my parents for the art intervention after they caught us playing Babasónicos’ “Putita” in a special evil twin-meets evil twin acoustic rendition. The discussion didn’t deal much with the explicit language; it was the appreciative tone in “Putita” that disturbed the family household. Ever since, I’ve always had a special relationship with Babasonicos. I see them as a fetish, as a morbid item of prohibition and my excuse for innocuous disobedience.
Eight years later and living the emancipated life, I still find the Babasónicos experience to be of monumental value. And it’s not just because of their defiant significance; they truly are one of the greatest bands to have ever emerged from our continent. A Propósito marks the band’s tenth studio album, yet another success in their fruitful career. Babasónicos understands the basics of discography digestion and, after a trio of precedent establishments (Infame, Anoche, Mucho), they’re back into the field of narcotized rhythms and baroque distortions. Yes, A Propósito is a return to the psychedelic terrain of Jessico (2001), an album that might alienate those enchanted by the marathon catchiness of “Microdancing” or the epic “Carismatico-Yegua-Un Flash” sequence ménage in Anoche (2005).
The first thing that comes to mind after giving A Propósito a spin is the fact that it sounds less horsy than its predecessors. Not to say they’ve lost muscle or their emblematic smugness, they just seem to approach conversation in a quirky (almost dry) panorama. The band acknowledges they’re dealing with exotic lands right away with album opener “Flora y Fauna," a western-like dualistic piece about self-destruction. When leading single “Deshoras” was first released, it didn’t even smell like a Babasónicos single. The song finds a whole different context on the album, becoming the full-circle stream of a record that celebrates life’s miseries with disillusioned 2-to-3 chord structures. Adrian Dargelos and his misfits don't sound as progressive as I usually like them, but the imprinted quality and uncomplicated beauty presents itself in abundance.
Babasónicos makes the most sylvan and thorny sexual songs (see the album cover), but this time around they all come with an extra sense of ceremonial hunch. These tracks include the masquerade-erotic suggestion in “Fiesta Popular," the love-on-a-boat shipwreck in “Tormento," and the savagely romantic “Barranca Abajo.” Babasónicos has never been the most optimistic band out there, and they almost go emo on this one. But there’s not much to be worried about; worst case scenario is you empty a bottle of wine and declare war on humanity singing to “Ideas.” A Propósito will hardly earn Babasónicos any new fans, but for those of us already on their bandwagon, it is a great chance to fall in love with them all over again.