Well-established Spanish indie rock group Vetusta Morla’s new album begins with the song “Deséame Suerte” – “Wish me luck” – a buoyant track propelled upward with psychedelic power and compelling melody. Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar needs little in the way of luck, though; as the group approaches its 20th anniversary this coming summer, the album reinforces how well-deserved Vetusta Morla’s long career is and adds a well-rounded new chapter to the mix.
As time has passed, Vetusta Morla’s energy has not waned, but Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar marks a new way of channeling that energy. Tracks like “El Discurso del Rey” release it slowly and with focus, leaving more stamina for tracks like breezy indie rocker “Las Palmeras de Mancha” and slow-building tidal wave “Consejo de Sabios”.
The group saves some standout tracks for the second half of the album. “Te lo Digo a Ti” has high, engaging energy; guitars, keyboards, and drums make for a driving melody. “Punto Sin Retorno” rolls like calm water, a song beautiful in its simplicity. Pulsing synth notes start off the titular closing track, one that comes full circle, soaring high on winding currents of its own making, growing more and more powerful as the song presses onward.
Perhaps the most striking theme of Vetusta Morla’s career has been the group’s lack of media interaction; it has largely grown in popularity through word of mouth, off the sheer strength of its live performances. Radio and television support have been minimal. In spite of this, the group sounds polished on Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar, its first release made in conjunction with a major label: Sony, which intends to distribute the album more widely than previous recordings.
In spite of this potential corporate angle, the group maintains and strengthens its sound rather than heading somewhere completely off-track. Higher production values give Vetusta Morla a more mainstream vibe, but not at the expense of sharp lyrical and musical sensibilities. Instead, Vetusta Morla now has the opportunity to take its sounds to a wider audience; even now, they are in the midst of a tour that hops from major city to major city in South America and Mexico before heading back to Spain for ten more live shows. Vetusta Morla shows every sign of becoming a global phenomenon on a larger scale than ever before with Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar, and after ten years of winning awards and charming cross-continental audiences at festivals and concerts, this fame comes none too soon.
Vetusta Morla truly is a grassroots movement of a band, and as Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar definitively proves, one savvy to not only current events, but also contemporary sounds. There are artifacts of 2000s alt-rock in the band’s latest, and yet the band sounds consistently stylish, frontman JP “Pucho” Martin striking that enviable balance between crooning and crying and floating as the band weaves together cohesive tracks full of heart and skill. In the end, whether you’re listening to the heartstring-tugging “Guerra Civil” or low-key waltz “23 de Junio”, you’ll be hard-pressed not to feel an emotional connection to the sextet behind Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar.