Feria Music, Chile
by Enrique Coyotzi
by Enrique Coyotzi
Dënver reached remarkable status with their untouchable sophomore record Música, Gramática, Gimnasia. Not only did it bring us lifetime classics like “Lo que quieras” or “Los adolescentes,” it also became, as these past three years have certified, a milestone generational masterpiece inside the Iberoamerican pop field. After such a colossal achievement, where do you go from there? Fuera de campo, the San Felipeans' elegant third studio album, encounters beauty within restraint and delicacy, demonstrating refinement in the magic enveloping the beloved duo's striking art.
Whereas MGG principally stood out due to Cristian Heyne’s spectacular assistance, this time around mastermind Milton Mahan takes the reins painting an exquisite, gratifying production, maximizing orchestral arrangements (check out the breathtaking final minute of “Mejor más allá” or the magistral ending of “Profundidad de campo”) performed by a score of Mexican musicians. Fuera de campo is paced gorgeously through a cohesive ordering of heavenly songs, which electrocute, emote, and caress the deepest fibers, allowing each composition a place to breathe on its own—the Dënver way, one of the most sumptuous imaginable.
Back when we premiered the spooky clip for second single “Las fuerzas,” fellow Fonograma writer Giovanni Guillén suggested that our review had been on queue since this track had commanded so much of our attention it simply had “delayed the listening experience altogether.” He was right. “Las fuerzas” is a force of nature, a sublime work that requires just one spin for the listener to realize it’s already a quintessential reference of the band's career, an on repeat can't-get-out-of-my-head melody. “Revista de gimnasia," winner on our Midyear Report 2013 compilation, follows and shoots lights on the dance floor, marking the ABBA-esque universe prevalent on upcoming disco-imbued takes, like the tempting “Tu peor rival” or the uplifting “Torneo local,” whose elements feel more like reverent renditions rather than recycled pastiches.
The first four songs on the album display some of Dënver's strongest material to date. The next couple step into harder to digest territory. The Stereolab-on-speed “El árbol magnético ataca por sorpresa” and the arresting shoegazey Cristóbal Briceño collaboration “Concentración de campos,” are damn good, but could have used some editing. Similar to what occurred with Odisea’s self-titled debut, the songs turn out too prolonged, even over-ornamented for their own sake. Bewitchingly, Mariana Montenegro soon brings back the tender tone, delivering two of the duo’s most luscious moments ever: the soft pop á la Tears for Fears of “Medio mal” and the stirring, synth lullaby “Medio loca (Hasta el bikini me estorba).”
According to Mahan, the conceptual Fuera de campo, which is linked to a story of a war, is structured in a “very narrative sense.” Listeners will have to be attentive to the lyrics to fully catch the warlike storytelling, which makes itself first present on “Las fuerzas” and the line “No gana la guerra quien más soldados ni armas tenga” and detonates violently in the battle-reminiscent “El árbol magnético.” With Fuera de campo, Dënver may not have not surpassed the greatness of Música, Gramática, Gimnasia, nevertheless, they’ve accomplished a well-thought out, charmingly-crafted follow-up. Most importantly, they've proven that their spark hasn't gone anywhere.