Sincronía, Las Amigas de Nadie
Mamacha Productions, Peru
by Pierre Lestruhaut
On the cover of their previous record Cápsula, Las Amigas de Nadie were brandishing an image that could easily fall somewhere between Spice Girls going artsy in “Say You’ll Be There,” and kitsch kings Afrodita going futuristic. And just like its cover, the album itself was far from being sonically devoid of any eccentricities. Despite largely exhibiting cleanly executed escapist naive pop, something at which it generally succeeded fairly well (especially in uber catchy almost trip-hopesque “Doce Pasos”), the kitschiest end of it (a rap-rock number, some guest rapping in an alt rock track, and a surf rock closer about wanting to be hardcore) exuded an overall impression of careless scatteredness.
Fast forward to 2012 and lead single “Espiral,” a jazzy spy music-inspired chorus-less song with an accompanying Bergmanesque video presents a Las Amigas de Nadie very different from the ones we remembered. They were also inevitably viewed by the general opinion as something like experimental pop, for lack of a better term. While the rest of Sincronía very often simply erases the memory of the band that was making easily digestible pop last year, it also showcases how much better they’ve actually gotten at doing just that. “Cronos” is well tailored for straight-out tuneful pop music: a succession of well-placed hooks that don’t wear each other out in exhaustive repetition, but rather linearly build the anticipation for the next one to come, eventually beating “Doce Pasos” in terms of catchiness.
But the album quickly starts to evolve in unexpected directions. “Tronador” at 4:23 feels like an eternity in the midst of a 7-track, 21-minute record, aided by the fact it has so much going on in such a time frame: grunge basslines, proggy guitar jams, new-wave synths, a chart pop chorus, and the best vocals we’ve heard from the band so far. “Un Posible Final” takes what sounds like recordings for learning English and reveals their formal qualities by putting them in front of a chaotic backdrop of dissonant beats and synth lines in an odd effort at musique concrete, while “Algún Día” is as cute, innocent, and catchy as any track from La Reina Morsa could be. And finally “El Niño” sees them plunging into lo-fi Andean folk mode, in a track that’s as warm and intimate as it is cold and abstract, contrasting folk ideas against electronic ones.
In general, Sincronía works much better upon initial listens simply because of its strikingly contrasting aesthetic. Building its own narrative in such chaotic elegance, listeners will be surprised, perhaps even awed, but definitely curious enough for rediscovery. With repeated listens, though, as its surprise factor begins to fade away, and the more puzzling elements start to become more familiar, the album starts to feel rather even, and qualifies better as an immediate experience rather than a lasting one. Although it does't really have any weak tracks in it either (thus working fairly well as a collection of tunes), it also exceeds too much in contrast, thus lacking in connection, and left us wishing it would showcase some content in sacrifice of its own indulgence. It’s in the clash between the upsetting sounds and the melodies that Sincronía stands out as a truly distinguishable work.