Review Summary: The last days of summer...
Chilean outfit, Ases Falsos are one of the latest bands to make the rounds of being touted as indie darlings of the Latin American blogosphere with all the posturing and hype that goes along with that territory (as evidenced by the 20,000 downloads they managed when Quemasucabeza, their record company, put the disc up for free for 24 hours)--but damn it, if it isn't nice when a group actually lives up to the attention they've garnered. The cleanly picked acoustic guitar that begins the album along with accompanying flute establishes the mood for the rest of the disc. One can easily conjure up images of a deserted highway full of miles of open road, the sun and nothing but perhaps this album and your thoughts to keep you company. Conducción
exhibits all the tell-tale signs of the perfect lackadaisical summer record but packed with enough substance and weight to keep you coming back for more.
The group's debut album Juventud Americana
didn't quite bring Ases Falsos that much fame, even in their home country, but what it did manage to do was open up the ears of listeners as a band with quite the potential--if only they could nail their sound. A few years later and a few years wiser, Cristóbal Briceño and his group have penned quite the follow-up record. Whereas the debut was mired in rebellious lyrics focusing on political turmoil and the sounds of rock latinoamericano circa the 1970's and 80's; Conducción
plays out like a coming-of-age personal transformation of sorts. The kind one experiences after accepting the futileness, or rather, the foolishness of their rebellious youth and in turn striving for a more holistic or well-rounded approach towards life. A tender maturation in both sound and lyricism, the album is nicely balanced between feel good pop songs, straight up rock latinoamericano and emotionally charged ballads.
Ases Falsos sets themselves apart from their contemporaries by having a penchant for writing captivating melodies and wonderful hooks along with Briceño's ingenious and often comically detached lyrics. The progress into 'adulthood' the band has undertaken is quite noted on some of the penned words by the frontman, take for example "Búscate un lunar para ensayar",
Pongo el caso de una marcha
Nos conmueve la fiereza de cada canción
Pero son frases hechas que se olvidan con facilidad
Después de unas cervezas nadie sabe dónde quedó la rabia
The focus on the instrumentation and lyrical content is evident throughout the record. While being brought up, no doubt listening to Chilean pop/rock groups like Los Bunkers, La Ley and others, Ases Falsos have taken what they grew up with and advanced it for the modern age. The guitars on the album, for the most part, are light and breezy never really getting too aggressive and the drums and bass keep things in check. However, not afraid to mix things up a bit, Ases include a great deal of orchestral instruments into their sound like the plucky saxophone on the aforementioned track, as well as in "Plácidamente" but also subtle touches of violins and cellos on some of the more romantically driven songs like "Simetria" (which is one of the better songs on the album). Not only was it chosen as the first single of the disc but it also contains some of the most touchingly honest lyrics. Rarely seen in today's pop industry, the honest approach to the lyrics shines on a number of other tracks as well. Take "Cae la cortina", which blends smooth almost jazz-like synths and beats with heartfelt croons that steadily proclaim that us humans aren't too different from each other when the curtains come down. Other songs on the album forgo the charged sentiments for more cheerful, uplifting vibes like "Tora Bora" and "Nada" the latter of which, at times, resembles the sounds of the stars of old like José José who have had plenty of success in their home country of Mexico and in Latin America in general.
What makes Conducción
such an engaging listen is that the songs are bunched together and often hit the listener in waves. Like movements, the order of the disc, flows over you allowing for easy digestion of each and every track. The melodies are poppy and infectious at their highest and the poignant, moving verses of the more somber tracks allow one to dwell haplessly in their misfortune. Perfect for those road trips that seek adventure and fun but all the while, in the background there is something more serious, something more contemplative to the voyage--that is exactly what Ases Falsos bring to the table, an album that can be equally enjoyed together with friends or in solitude.