by Pierre Lestruhaut
Las Ligas Menores, El Disco Suplente. And so much for ambition. Twenty years or so after Sarah Records and company set the course for numerous followers that perpetuated a fondness for melodic virtue through neat simplicity and structural limitations (and thus rejected the intensity of punk, the proficiency of prog-rock, and the frivolity of mainstream pop), in comes a band from Buenos Aires who sets out those distinctive features of indie pop as a parallel to professional sports’ inherent hierarchy. It's worth mentioning how much being a faithful follower of indie pop (this coming from someone who dove far into the more inessential releases of twee pop) often requires the same devotion and sacrifice that comes with supporting a lower division team, knowing that there are probably far more interesting things going on outside of it, but always showing your allegiance no matter what.
Formed less than a year ago, Las Ligas Menores open their debut EP with jangly number “Accidente,” which sets the tone for the rest of the EP with clean guitar chimes, sparse drumming, and the vocal fragility of a Le Mans song, slowly building up towards a hummable break that lends the amateurish charm of early C86 recordings. “Buscando” is the only occasion for the sole male component of Las Ligas Menores to take over vocal duties in another sharp display of the band’s knack for classic pop melody and structure, while “Movimiento” makes way for the only keyboard lines of the record, injecting a great deal of melodic ingenuity into a song I could totally see Carmen Sandiego performing back in their early days as a drum-less duo.
Although the lyrics are far from being the centerpiece in El Disco Suplente, the young band doesn’t take too many risks in this field and limit themselves to some kind of variation of teenage anxiety in the form of growing up (“Está muy mal si ya no creo en ciertas cosas como el cielo es azul”), breaking up (“Solo admito que no puedo resignarme y solo verte marchar"), and being lonely (“Espero sentada todo el día a que vengás”). The distinctive lyrical sharpness of fellow Laptra bandmates, from 107 Faunos’ vivid imagery to La Ola’s jagged nostalgia, has yet to grow on Las Ligas Menores who in the future will hopefully show a little more depth than that of Best Coast’s high school-level one-dimensional musings.
Eventually, “Crecer” closes the record in a texture-mounting number that climaxes around its series of coos and unexpected tempo shifts as Las Ligas Menores show off an intriguing sense of contrast in this last song. As with everything that’s part of the Laptra catalog, this isn’t a record that looks to go anywhere beyond the three-chords-is-all-you-need ethos, or that expects to work in the field of cleanly polished hook-depending pop. But, while staying true to their own aesthetic, Las Ligas Menores deliver a collection of six faithfully performed, charmingly executed, and carefully crafted songs that make for a very assured debut EP, especially one coming from such a young band.