Sony Music, Argentina
by Carlos Reyes
In my review of Babasónicos’ A Propósito, I commended the band’s selectively unorthodox discography and pointed out that, despite a few raised eyebrows (Babasonica, Mucho), they had yet to release a single bad album. Well, folks, the inevitable misfire had to arrive some day. Early word on Romantisísmico, Babasónicos’ twelfth studio album from reliable Argentinean critics referred to the album as something disjointed and melodically sporadic, reactions that somehow seemed to excite me more than make me wary of the forthcoming experience. First single “La Lanza” seemed conceptually hazy and weird. As an outspoken fan, I was praying those critics had been turned off by the weird. I craved weird; as good as it gets on the creative spectrum of Babasónicos.
The easiest/laziest way to discredit an album is by focusing the critical eye on how innovative the record is. Most of the commentary on Romantisísmico dealt, in some way or another, with the notion of Babasónicos not offering anything new (neglecting to articulate much about auterism, idiosyncrasy, and structural language. In other words, the album’s actual content). Despite the disregard of reviewing those elements, I’m afraid Romantisísmico is still as flawed or even more disappointing than the early word made it out to be. “We departed from the irony and cynicism that we had been carrying in other albums,” confesses vocalist and main composer Adrian Dárgelos. Reading that almost makes it look like the band set itself up for self-sabotage. The removal of those parts really takes a toll on the album’s thematic and structural core. Bound to be singles “Negrita” and “Los Burocratas del Amor” could’ve benefited from those deliciously evil punchlines Dárgelos is known for and that serve as motifs and dynamite on their rock & roll journey.
Romantisísmico is the album for all those demanding Babasónicos to deliver “something new.” The changes are not assaulting enough to send the band in a new direction, but their presence (serving substitutionary roles) really prevent the album from being good or even developing a personality (save for the tenderly accomplished “Aduana de Palabras). What’s truly scary here is that Romantisísmico not only falls short on its content, its manufacture is incoherent and roughly compressed. The responsive chorus in “La Lanza” and those cascading synths in “Run Run” are ideas compromised in their mere conception by poor design (they’re obtrusive to the grand gloss of the production). Other tracks are just awkward to listen to as a whole (“Humo” and “Paisano”). Romantisísmico couldn’t have arrived at a worst time. Fans are still nostalgic and re-discovering the 2012 re-edition of Jessico (which turned ten years old last year). It’s unfair to compare them, but the timing of both releases makes it difficult to turn away from the comparison. And it’s a huge difference. Jessico still sounds as urgent and weirdly majestic, a true conceptual masterpiece with many decades ahead of it. Romantisísmico is a tiny attempt at a roar, and a bit of a chore to sit through.