Una montaña es una montaña, Los Punsetes
Everlasting Records, Spain
by Pierre Lestruhaut
If you happen to be very familiar with the bands that this blog has tended to laud over the past few years, then chances are you already have a pretty decent understanding of what made Los Punsetes’ excellent one-two punch of oddball indie rock that were LP and LP2. If you’re not, and hopefully haven’t been living under a rock, then at least maybe you've heard about a certain lowbrow song with an opening lyric that goes something like “Que le den por culo a tus amigos,” which, for better or worse, continues to be both the main reference and entrance point into the Madrilenian quintet’s discography as it moves towards their third LP Una montaña es una montaña.
For better, “Tus Amigos” still remains the most effective incarnation of what has made Los Punsetes such a fun band to listen to: crudely humorous and nihilistic me-against-the-world lyrics, the sister-in-the-shower singing/yelling style of Ariadna, and a muscled backing band comprising a pair of great interweaving guitars and a tight rhythm section. But for worse, it often seems to reduce the whole extension of the band's framework to a single line (albeit a piercingly good one), thus failing to represent them as the glaring antithesis to the more common self-conscious and hyper-referential record collector rock that seems to attracts the attention of most indie fans—sitting oppositely from Piyama Party’s indie fan witticism while somehow standing on the same funny-as-shit indie rock sidewalk.
“Alférez Provisional,” first single from Una montaña es una montaña, seemed like the sort of safe roundup to follow the tour de force that was LP2: sticking to the more conspicuous elements of your aesthetic that have been key to your success (Planetas and Movida Madrileña-infused sounds with a heavy dose of FUCK EVERYONE), while bringing along a couple of recent local powerhouses (Pablo Díaz-Reixa as producer, CANADA as video directors). For most of the record, though, instead of the in-studio friction between band members portrayed in the video for “Alférez Provisional,” Los Punsetes seem to have settled for finding a comfortable groove. Lyrical repetition and steady progressions to the point of utter stagnation (“Un corte limpio,” “Malas tierras”), breathing from an absence of easily digestible melodies and occasionally diverging towards rockist grandeur (epic keyboard-led outro in “Malas Tierras,” apocalyptical contemplation in “Los glaciares”).
As opposed to what we were used to in LP and LP2, Los Punsetes seem decided to progress within the confines of well executed clean guitar rock more often than making us feel uncomfortably delighted with their enfant-terrible approach. The latter is obviously the kind of aesthetic that led to all kinds of knee-jerk reactions about the band being simultaneously unique, refreshing, lowbrow and provocative. But the former, even though it has made them overall less interesting and certainly a lot less fun to listen to, is the forthcoming breeze of a band that’s entering maturity. In “John Cage,” Ariadna sings with nihilistic apathy (“Noy hay mejor propósito que no tener ningún propósito”), about a certain acceptance for the certainties of life (“Un hombre es un hombre y una montaña es una montaña"), which makes for a closing number that leaves us to face the fact that every enfant-terrible must inevitably enter adulthood at some point.