Caracoles, Kanaku y El Tigre
Ombligo Records, Peru
by Carlos Reyes
“If we suddenly learn to kill and go hunting, I wish to give you a flower for every one of my nightmares.” That’s a picturesque line from Kanaku y El Tigre’s hit single “Caracoles,” the relentless title track of what’s likely to be the most lauded Peruvian release of the year. As wandering folk goes, these Peruvian newcomers are bubbly songcrafters whose well-trod melodies spoil their resourceful dynamics and enchanting camaraderie. Caracoles is an intriguing debut even within its flaws.
Kanaku y El Tigre bring the bouncy and pastoral frost to our beloved indie fruit punch, yet much of the pieces on their debut tackle the sadness derived from failing to rise. If we were to dissect “Caracoles” into pieces, these would come off as rumbling strips about loss and echoes, a complete contrast of what you actually get as a whole. “Caracoles” succeeds because of its sheltered warble and heart-consuming hopefulness. Even if the song is all about self-vicious realization and lament, its sudden rhythmic movements push that song into a resolution: “ya no hay nada mas simple que echarme a reir.” Caracoles points to all the right places but occasionally finds uneven ground whenever the band strips down to its fundamentals (“Lucia”), sounding merely languid. The duo’s sympathy towards immediacy matches their aspirations, and this is bittersweet news for those of us inclined toward a progressive rustic vein of folk rather than something discrete or circumstantial.
The band sounds the brightest in album highlight “Tu Verano Mi Invierno,” a track with breezy back vocals that bring the andino fondness afloat in the best of “Chipi Chipi.” Also very appealing is the adjacent tone of Kanaku y El Tigre’s broken-vibrato voices, both as vulnerable and nostalgically South American as those from Fernando Milagros and Prietto Viaja Al Cosmos Con Mariano. Crowd favorite “Bicicleta” points out their ability to tell a story, but their instinct towards stomping walls into every strum shows just how tight their compositional skeleton is. Yes, a limited soundscape, but audaciously crafted. Bruno Bellatin and Nicolas Saba employ DIY convention, yearning lyrics, and rhythmic lines of bedroom pop and campfire folk. Although often unfocused and metrically defenseless, this first reference should earn them the Most Likely To Succeed plaque, at least locally.