Music

Punk's Spanish Love Songs Urge 'Brave Faces Everyone'

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Punk rockers Spanish Love Songs know that even on the darkest, desolate morning there's hope in waiting for the sun to come up. Brave Faces Everyone feels like a defining moment for the band.

Brave Faces Everyone
Spanish Love Songs

Pure Noise

7 February 2020

Despite the undoubted highs and life-enriching experiences that can come with being in a touring rock band, it's difficult to imagine a profession more fraught with loneliness and self-doubt. The constant balancing act of building a connection with your audience whilst somehow maintaining your relationships can be emotionally and physically draining.

Since the release of their brilliant Schmaltz album, LA-based rockers Spanish Love Songs, have racked up the miles playing to ever more fervent crowds keenly affected by frontman Dylan Slocum's rawly honest, heart on the sleeve lyrics, and the band's rousing brand of indie punk. In that time, Spanish Love Songs have had to navigate growing popularity whilst avoiding the pitfalls that have curtailed so many bands before them. On new album Brave Faces Everyone, these experiences have translated into universally relatable, authentic anthems with a clear unifying link. Binding the songs together is the tacit acknowledgment that we all need love, empathy, and recognition to move forward.

The album opens with soft swells of synths and a solitary electric guitar as Slocum croons the line, "On any given day I'm a six of ten", summarising in a single line what many of us feel. We may well be connected by our shared existential (or very real) angst but, by inference, maybe we are doing slightly better than average. The song then quickly kicks into gear as the band crash into a monumental chorus.

"Self Destruction (as a sensible career choice)" maintains the momentum. It's a surging rocker that bounds to its delightfully cynical chorus of "It won't be this bleak forever / Yeah right!" Few lyricists can manipulate their misery into such sing-a-long hooks as well as Slocum does on this album. "Generation Loss" reflects on an entire generation trying to navigate the world largely unaided, all while being endlessly judged. ("We're so fucking tired of explaining ourselves.")

"Kick" details the all to real plight of someone watching a loved one slide into hard drug addiction. Remarkably, despite the subject matter, it's one of the catchiest songs on the album, with the band embracing a more pop-rock dynamic. It's also a superb example of Slocum's more storied songwriting approach as it's a well-rendered character study rather than a purely autobiographical piece.

"Beach Front Property" is one of the albums subtler, more nuanced moments that finds the band amplifying the space in the song and heightening its emotional resonance. Followers of the band will already be well aware of the song "Losers" - a remarkable, authentic call to arms for the dispossessed and disenfranchised. Based on an almost classic rock 'n' roll riff, it's probably the most straight-up, anthemic rock song in the band's canon.

Those same followers may be a little surprised to see then a song entitled "Optimism" on the album. However, it is a remarkably self-aware track about the dangers of being dragged down into a world of endless pessimism and cynicism. To thrive, the band understand that they need to paint with more colors than just black and grey.

That's not to say that Spanish Love Songs don't know how to use those colors well. "Losers 2" is the comedown after the hedonism of "Losers" as the band identifies with the genuine struggle of trying to become even remotely financially independent in the age of raging inflation and prohibitive house prices. The stripped-back "Dolores" finds Slocum adopting a more Neil Young style approach as he communicates the crises of those on the edges of society.

Album closer "Brave Faces Everyone" captures the dichotomy that lies at the heart of the album. Torn between wanting to give up ("But I feel like burning down my life again") and stealing oneself for what comes next, it exemplifies the confusion, anxiousness, and qualified optimism that lies at the heart of the album.

Brave Faces Everyone feels like a defining moment for the band. By furthering their sonic template, they show just how they have grown into dynamic and articulate songwriters while retaining their ability to write rabble-rousing, shout-along choruses. What's more, Spanish Love Songs understand that even on the darkest, desolate morning there's hope to be had in waiting for the sun to come up.

8


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.

Music

Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.

Music

Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.

Music

'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.

Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Music

12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.

Music

Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.

Music

Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.

Music

Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.