by Sam Rodgers
Ya lo dijo Rufis Taylor charges out of the gates, heralded by gringo-accented pronunciation of the band's name and gunfire. Los Románticos' drummer, Toni, bashes away, and the simple, punk-like guitar chords of lead single "Si tú estás lejos" penetrate the mind's attention span for a memorable riff. Predictably, lead singer Manzanas enters when the drum rolls, and here begins a triplet of songs dedicated to that someone Manzanas is standing on a mountain, on a pier, outside the club declaring his love for, maybe with a novelty director's megaphone or funnelled newspaper. It's all about "tú" (presumably "ella"), and before you've memorised the lyrics of the first one, tracks two (second single "Es por ti") and three come crashing out of the speakers at the same frantic pace, like Manzanas has ripped off the last lyric sheet, scrunched it up, thrown it over his shoulder, and is composing the same thoughts again. Because each of these tracks all come under just three minutes, the effect is urgent and relatable (if you're not here–it's all for you–you feel the same way I do), if not a bit like a whirlwind. Wait? Am I up to track four already?
Interspersed between songs is generic nostalgia Mexicana (snippets from radio, TV, etc.), which gives the album a sense of being just "good ol' rock and roll." Whether or not it successfully heightens the melancholy that looking back (on a decade of culture, or lost love) entails is debatable–the choice to include these sound bites doesn't seem very focused–but, superficially, it breaks up what could be an overwhelming exercise in high hat 'n' strumming.
The most interesting moments of the record integrate these relics with the music during the middle of the album. The end of "No te tardes," with its cinematic flourishes and stomping drum outro, shake us out of the so-far-so-rock daze and make the next song, "Ya lo ves," instantly stand out. It's the first track to change the atmosphere of the album from a simplistic Help! to a more nuanced Rubber Soul. The melody of "Ya lo ves" is quite Beatles-esque, a more upbeat Tame Impala, and reflects well the melancholy and desperation Manzanas must be feeling for this evasive muchacha by track six. Even his voice channels the signature psychedelic drone of the Fab Four, and is evident again on the next track, "Me siento cansado."
However, the album does err on the "outstayed welcome" side of things. It's unfair to say it does this completely when tracks are no longer than four minutes and most are under three, but, with fourteen tracks, the album can sound repetitive. Even though the protagonist has lyrically been through the wringer and come out hopeful again by the end, the album is bookended by the least interesting sonic ideas, which the sound bites on their own can't salvage. At its best, Ya lo dijo Rufis Taylor is playful and somewhat innocent, tracks are straightforward, catchy and sometimes unexpected; it's a solid record to put on at your next summer house party (as depicted in the lead single's video). But at its worst, the straightforwardness can grate, you want to lower Manzanas' megaphone and tell him to get over it, or at least get empathetically depressed, just to change the tempo here and there.