Chica Disco, Napoléon Solo
El Volcan, Spain
by Carlos Reyes
In the best of cases, hipsters aren’t just music geeks. We are devotees (often turned connoisseurs) of multiple platforms, even if we frequently come off as plain cynics of the seemingly unfashionable. I have a favorite piece in my wardrobe, a vintage pre-Marvel Studios T-shirt with a grid of superheroes. It’s an eye-catcher and a conversation piece–every time I wear it, random people of all ages approach, point, and touch with no consideration or concern for who’s wearing it. Napoléon Solo’s sophomore album Chica Disco is very much like that T-shirt. It’s unreservedly approachable and nostalgic, with spots of superhuman nature and an auditory moral fiber that gravitates toward public deed.
Sheltered by the production of Emmanuel del Real (Café Tacvba), these Spaniard rockers are on a firm path toward glory. They may lack superhero blood but would acknowledge pills as the ideal supplements. This second set of songs finds the band focused on structure and swinging toward genre variation. There’s very little of Disco on the album, but a spreadsheet of sounds to be found in Chica Disco. Being the goofballs they often sound like, it’s no surprise they open the album with something titled “Adios,” a somber ballad that might just be a pupil of Raphael’s “Balada de la Trompeta.” They follow with the leading single “Antes de que ocurriera,” a sequence-based track that is a dream opportunity to show off the band’s expertise at flourishing and carrying out progressions. As these tracks set the tone of the album, one comes to embrace Napoléon Solo’s intercontinental success as something fascinating and unlikely, and that includes everything from major Vive Latino triumphs to landing commercial deals on broadcast television.
Chica Disco feels less specific than its predecessor, but that doesn’t necessarily make it less enthusiastic. Main composer and vocalist Alonso Díaz is, more often than not, an unpredictable goldmine. Catchy tracks “Ramira” and “Sentido y Orden” feel like self-resolved revival pieces, but Díaz pitches them having none other than José Alfredo Jiménez in mind. And, although the outcomes are quite absurd, you can’t help but root for the inevitable loopy successes. Closing track “Historias” is a robust harmonized ending that bursts with as much melody and '50s glamour as Carla Morrison’s “Compartir” and The Morning Benders’ “Excuses.” There’s very little Napoléon Solo won’t do, and they make it clear that they won’t settle for anything that sounds less than towering. As the group extends its grid of content, they open a door toward uncertainty. Yet, this time around, the amount of deficit has been well covered by Napoléon's antiheroic thirst for fundamental knowledge.