Norte, Little Jesus
by Carlos Reyes
The hyperbole that preceded the releasing of Little Jesus’ debut album, Norte, was received with coldness and skepticism among our staff. Collected overhype kills your chances of becoming the-little-band-that-could, especially for a newcomer band like Little Jesus –a band tailored to sound so straightforwardly indie. For a while, it seemed like one blog after another were celebrating singles that simply left us unmoved. When putting the hype in perspective, one can find that those building the excitement are the same publications that don’t bother to review records or formulate any critical input into their novelty-based content.
While indifference was a very civil and appropriate stance to have on the band, the actual release of Norte presents us with an album that’s aesthetically pleasing, well constructed, and often clever. It’s by no means an album for best-of-the-year consideration, but it’s the kind of easy-listening experience that will adjust to just about any disposition on your end. But it’s perhaps that inability of emotional impact and aural assaultiveness that hurts Norte’s chances of becoming an essential piece to the Iberoamerican landscape. But where it lacks artistic sharpness, Little Jesus’ opera prima blooms in relevancy. They trigger the sounds of today and execute their ideas with privilege manufacture. The pristine production of the album (especially its first half) pushes the slightest pin drop to the foreground. If rhythm-shifting songs like “Cretino” and hit single “Berlin” sound so impeccably clean and ready for radio/commercials, it’s because they’ve succeeded at delivering an all-encompassing canvas.
Vampire Weekend and Real Estate are fitting comparisons to the outlining of Little Jesus as a band, but the execution of Norte stills draws them back to music making that merely provides a service to your day. Not everything lacks excitement/ambition. “Azul” and “Color” are proof the band can survey maximalist structures and enrich its assembly from them. Aesthetically, Norte is coherent at keeping itself very clean and simple. The artwork and one-word song-titles parameter make things truly round. And even if the lyrics throughout the album sound a little too Magneto-ish to grasp the intellect, they reinforce the simplistic aspirations. Norte is indeed simple, but perhaps a bit too distant in its conception. Plenty of time ahead for Little Jesus to articulate on its discourse. For those craving profound myriad melodies, please refer back to Los Gandharvas.