Kellies, Las Kellies
Fire Records, Argentina
by Carlos Reyes
My most recent post on AltLatino is inspired by Piyama Party’s “Bandas de Chicas,” a generational song that acknowledges the recent flourishing of all-girl rock bands within our Iberoamerican niche. In that article I shortlisted bands like Spain’s Aias, Costa Rica’s Las Robertas, and Mexico’s Ruido Rosa. I also highlighted an all-grrrl (notice the three r's) power band that has been getting plenty of global buzz lately. Ceci Kelly, Betty Kelly, and Sil Kelly comprise Argentina’s dazzling trio Las Kellies. These Buenos Aires girls distance themselves from the modern noise pop cookie cutter, opting instead for the flippant waters of post-punk.
Picking up on a '70s sound and popular formation (for that time), Las Kellies’ revivalist flirtations go beyond their soundscape agenda. Kellies is the title of their third album, a great case study in trying to figure out our current definition of the post-punk femininity. Excuse my thirst for an all-girl review cliché, but there’s something so menacing about this record that would justify my fascination towards punk-girl plethora. History has seen the mother, the femme fatale, the bombshell, the transitional woman, the girl, and the Madonna, but, as in most aspects of cultural hegemony, it has overlooked its industrial characters. For all we know, Las Kellies might just be a trio of skilled and well-read friends who just happen to be females. But the physicality of their guitars, garage-raw tangents, and overall moxie reveals them as rebellious activists against any sort of decorative pin-up.
Leading single “Perro Rompebolas” is a fast-paced and all-consuming track worthy to be alongside any Paquita la del Barrio male-trashing track. Yet underneath the vocal ecstasy and barking, you can feel emotional depth pouring into chord progressions and nostalgia. “I don’t believe you, you’re just too good to be true” says the opening track “Prince in Blue.” Unlike many of the riot grrrl bands of the '70s, Las Kellies practice tongue-in-cheek conversation without conceding or compromising any of their socio-political discourse. The only flaws in Kellies are derived from its own all-comprehensive discretion. There’s nothing wrong with the bubblegum surf pop tracks, it’s the genre-stretching numbers (“Um Dia No Brasil," “Bife Dos”) that sound precarious. But even at precarious, they carry their spirit to higher grounds. Comprised of 14 tracks nicely chopped into tiny pieces of post-punk bravura, Kellies is an audacious record that should continue to bring the trio some generous intercontinental recognition.