Alex & Daniel, Alex & Daniel
by Giovanni Guillén
The first Mecano song I truly fell in love with was “Hawaii-Bombay.” Before I picked up on its more suggestive tones, I was completely mesmerized by the mood it created. Ana Torroja appeared to understand and appreciate the sensation of wanderlust better than anyone else. Her descriptions and sighs weren’t just from casual daydreaming they were clearly hallucinatory. And although the places she described existed, they could be found in pictures or experienced first hand, they could never compare to the ones she envisioned in her bathtub. That feeling is something I immediately recognized upon listening to Alex & Daniel. Chilean idols Gepe and Alex Anwandter deliver on their first collaborative album and it's a pleasant little trip filled with oneiric and seductive gems.
From the time it was announced, Alex & Daniel felt like a bold career move. It wasn’t failure that it risked, but the possibility that as an experiment it would struggle to find a place among either artist’s oeuvre. It certainly isn’t as ambitious as Odisea, nor does it contain the raw and personal narrative found in Rebeldes or GP. Not as a whole, anyway. What Alex & Daniel does accomplish is effortless studio magic, two friends at their artistic peak going with their gut. No sonic impulse is ignored, every idea feels necessary: a saxophone to close out things (“Cada vez que invento algo sobre ti”), steel drums to illuminate (“Mejor que yo”). Another worry that was much-discussed between CF writers was whose presence would overtake the album. First impressions viewed Anwandter as the main character, but as we listened more the dynamic became clearer. The compositions on Alex & Daniel truly resemble double exposures, no foreground or background; their appeal would be lost or at least incomplete without each contributor.
My year-end blurb for “Mundo real” was quick to declare Anwandter “back in Odisea mode.” That might’ve been too easy. Even if Anwandter’s hands are all over the production, it is still a distinct effort. The world of dreams plays a huge role in shaping the sound of Alex & Daniel (“entre las sábanas me vuelvo a armar”). While our protagonists seek refuge in sleep, their subconscious takes over. Traces of both artists and their respective solo efforts are everywhere. "Baby" revisits the scenic bliss of Rebeldes highlight "Como una estrella" and, as with any recalled experience, becomes an invention of the mind, embellished here with bleeps and boy band chorus perfection. “Mejor que yo” picks up where “Campos magnéticos” left off, and actually comes across as small victory for Daniel.
It is strange to think of Alex & Daniel as a commercial product that needs to be promoted. Chances are if you read this blog you didn't need 500 words to convince you to listen. If there's anything that should be put into question, it's what songs will outlive the Alex & Daniel project. Twenty years from now, at a 10-day-long Coachella, what recordings will be absolutely essential to perform.
The closers "Miña" and "Una nueva aventura" rise to the challenge and produce glorious results. "Miña" soars, recalling the eccentric flourishes of Fleetwood Mac's Tango in the Night. And as if lines as beautiful as "quiero morir así, me llevo a ti" weren't enough, the song is engulfed with love drunk beats that are just begging the listener to break out some Anwandter choreography (or maybe just some classic Gepe moves). "Una nueva aventura" is an anthem for those yung & restless types, a lustrous theme for anyone who romanticized Antoine Doinel's escape ("el día es muy corto para dudar"). You heard Alex. Go on adventures. And take this album with you.