Grandes males, remedios regulares,
Gramaciones Grabofónicas, Spain
by Pierre Lestruhaut
There’s a particular sample in Grandes males, remedios regulares, the latest release from Anntona (guitarist of Los Punsetes), that serves as an interlude between the two-songs-in-one “ECI/Amorcitos,” and in which we can hear a man with a heavy French accent saying “I want to fuck her” in regards to an American woman who’s obviously shocked by the situation. Had I not been a huge Gainsbourg enthusiast I would have completely failed to see the origin of the uncredited sample and, thus, would have never been able to make reference to his well-known encounter with Whitney Houston on French TV. The reason why I focus on this 30-second sample isn’t for pure Gainsbourg-ian geekdom, but because it actually feels revelatory in how the man is somehow important in the way Anntona and Los Punsetes approach pop music.
Serge Gainsbourg was a '60s French pop idol whose early songs were generally very much in line with what the rest of the yé-yé crowd were doing, but as much as his name was engraved in that particular '60s pop aesthetic, he is mostly remembered for having France Gall implicitly and unawarely sing about blow jobs (and swallowing), making Jane Birkin moan with pleasure in a highly erotic internationally banned but later to become hit song, and, in his most accomplished work, conceiving a full album around the sole theme of statutory rape. Anntona and Los Punsetes on the other hand, are sonically placed along the line of Spaniard indie pop, praising the melodic simplicity and charm of Donosti Sound, devoting themselves to the uninterested and lazy vocal styles of Sr. Chinarro, while also holding onto the Casio synth packaging of Family. Still, the main reason why we love these acts so much is that they can somehow pull out something as charming as “Tú hueles mejor” or as haunting as “Cien metros para el cementerio,” while still giving out vocal hooks like “que le den por culo a tus amigos” and “todo el mundo tiene porno en casa,” which are both hilarious and excessively crude alongside the overall romanticism of Spaniard indie pop.
Grandes males, remedios regulares starts with the same raunchy resentment displayed in “Tus Amigos” with Anntona declaring, “Hay un montón de mierda en el fondo del pozo [...] he cogido un puñado y os lo voy a tirar,” while “Arruino todo lo que encuentro” turns the exasperation towards himself and his own insecurity issues. “A68” sees Ariadna Punset take a guest spot and leaves us wondering just how great a less guitar and more synth-driven Los Punsetes album would be, while final track “Norman Bates” has Anntona showing off a great ability in the rarely explored territory of electronic-driven Spanish indie pop. Other tracks are less effective in their use of electronic sounds. “Millones de chicas” is a song you’ll want to skip by the time you hit the second “1,2,3,4” Flaming Lips sample, and vocal manipulation feels mostly like a failed experiment on “Qué verde era mi valle.” Still, in the end, where Anntona will mostly have our admiration is for songs like “Caramelos con droga,” the kind where he can display his great handling and understanding of traditional forms (in this case new wave), while leaving his own (and Los Punsetes') singular imprint of obscenely hilarious lyricism with an opening line like “A mí el fin del mundo me pilló cagando.” Some may judge this as terribly lowbrow...we’ll call it auteristic.
Grandes males, remedios regulares,