Mesetario, Los Claveles
Gramaciones Grabofónicas, Spain
by Enrique Coyotzi
Let’s face it: Los Claveles can be, if not in the proper mood, a boring band to listen to, at least for the casual pop fan. The band's exciting initial tunes, even with all their lo-fi production à la Guided By Voices, past eras' rock & roll traces, and particular ironic sense of humor didn’t appear to fully convince all of our staff. Even though “Nacional 42” was our number one song last year, the self-titled 7”, while nostalgically ambitious, left some of us cold with the rest of the songs included. One year later, Los Claveles have broadened their canvas, refining it in their debut LP, Mesetario, which politely steps away from the rockers' first releases while polishing a clear-cut, more approachable sound, never losing the intimate qualities that have made them one of our classic revivalist darlings.
“Avanzamos hacia la libertad a pasos agigantados” declares anthemic opener “Estafas,” capturing in its first seconds a greater, more direct sensation than in any of the group’s previous compositions. Hell, it even features some handclaps and a steady bass line inevitably reminiscent of early ‘80s post-punk. The aforementioned quote resounds excellently in Los Claveles’ recent offerings. From Nacional 42 to Mesetario, their growth into full-liberty in a short lapse of time has been revealing. Recruiting Sergio Pérez (of Pegasvs/Thelemáticos fame), significantly enhanced the four-piece ensemble's regression in time into an up-to-date realm. It's fair to think The Strokes' Is This It, and, although we know it ain't quite there, Mesetario evokes similar back-to-basics zones, at the same time outlining a melodious capability and a consolidated status that should place them as one of Spain's most valuable talents.
Setting a splendid pace for the rest of the album, first single "Estafas" is visceral and claimant. The pleasurable collection of songs that is Mesetario should enchant longtime listeners, while unsurprisingly acquiring a new batch of followers. In each note played, Los Claveles exhibit how they've reached a comfortable balance nuanced by their ever clever lyrics ("La Pena Negra") and courageous arrangements ("Acertijo"). While the majority of these pieces are in the vein of rock-oriented, driving smashers, Los Claveles beautifully tackle dreamier, consoling works, like the breathtaking "Relicario" or swirling instrumental "La vida es un sueño." However, the best moments come when the band let their hair down. Title track, a commanding hymn that condemns nights to be used for sleeping ("¡Las noches no son para dormir!") makes me feel what Los Tucanes de Tijuana—although in a total different universe—ultimately didn't achieve in "Me gusta vivir de noche": the latent desire to stay awake until the sun comes up. "La Ruta Destroy" and "Cuidado con Sergifuente" are equally highlights in this sense, both arousing, daring, and, most importantly, lots of fun.
Gorgeously and invigoratingly reminding us the reasons we've been faithful to them in the first place, the greatly entertaining Mesetario sets Los Claveles as a band that hadn't exploited some of their richer attributes until now. But as proved in Mesetario, one of the year's best guitar albums, along with Protistas' Las Cruces, there's plenty of imagination and endurance to be awaited in these four creative brains. In the meantime, we can always come back and blast this delightful full-length as we are witnesses of how it evolves through time.