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Back to the saddle. At the end of March, 2018, the LA five piece pop punk band Spanish Love Songs released their debut album “Schmaltz”. I think maybe it was the name of the band that drew me to the release, or maybe it was the click if you like tag that compared the album to another pop punk favorite The Menzingers but I streamed the album on the day it was released. Wow!
Spanish Love Songs doesn’t sound like its band name would suggest i.e.. a cheesy Latino power balladeer. Instead the band uses high energy fast post punk compositions mixed with highly emotive and engaging lyrics that land like an atom bomb due to an impeccable delivery. “Schmaltz” kicks off right off the bat with the short but great track “Nuevo” . From the opening moments the heart breaking slow to start anthem drips with existential mid life angst. Once the whole band joins in and picks up the pace the build up is paid off in full, and right when “Nuevo” enters fifth gear, track two “Sequels, Remakes, and Adaptations” starts and the guitars crash into each other like a hurricane, fast and loose demolishing the shelters jaded punk fans built around their hearts and leaving nothing left standing save for the initial foundation. It is that good.
Nothing is cheap on this record, not the production, not the vulnerability, every note the band plays comes at a great emotional cost, and is sung with thundering aplomb. Lesser bands will gloss over songs, layer their pain behind superficiality basically hiding behind schtick, but “Schmaltz” isn’t schtick, it’s real. Spanish Love Songs live and die on every track.
Track six is another personal favorite, during the entirety of “the Boy considers his haircut” Spanish Love Songs vent their frustrations and give us a look into the struggle every artist faces when embracing pure artistic vulnerability, the first two chorus reflect a personal and meta commentary on the emotional nature of their songs vis-à-vis their home life. The inner turmoil keeps ramping up as they figuratively tear each other apart, then they get to the breakdown and then the well written bridge is beautiful it showcases the bands insecurities and vanity (i.e. caring about their haircut) but also their struggle. The bridge is both repeated and echoed by the entire band which lends power and credibility to this struggle. After the bridge is over, the full band plays louder and faster challenging lead singer Dylan Slocum to reach soaring heights, catapulting the song into the rafters.
Joana and Five Acts is another instant classic. Slocum’s vocal temperament is restrained but bursts out of his body, he sounds like he is on the cusp of screaming out or bursting into tears, when he repeats “why’d you leave without me,” after each successive time, his voice casts a line in the distance and goes fishing in a deep ocean. His exposed hurt is the bait he uses to hook me in, and by the end of the song I am left flopping up and down on a boat somewhere because he got me so well.