1971, Elle Belga

Acuarela Records, Spain
Rating: 67
By Carlos Reyes

If you know your Tarantino movies really well, you know there will be a moment where he will give up some of his adrenaline to embrace a moment of tranquility, usually after a victorious display of bloody exhibitionism or as a parody of tragedy, or vice versa. Spain’s Elle Belga is molded perfectly for those margins of slow paced cinematic sequences, those that remark Tarantino’s aesthetics to make his films feel epic and bring some western flavor balance to his very oriental cinematic eye. Elle Belga doesn’t come from the Americas but just like Bigott, it shares a lot of structure and themes imposed by names like Johnny Cash or Jose Alfredo Jimenez. Spain’s pop is so sugary lately that they’ve been given a ‘classical pop’ tag when they’re as contemporary as La Bien Querida or Nacho Vegas.

Josele Garcia and Fany Alvarez have crafted 10 songs in 1971, an album founded on strings and guided by despair. When “Todas las Cosas” popped up in blogs it seemed like the duo had all eyes on them, the single discharges truth and love affair unlike any other pop song recently. “Si al final llegaran otros besos clandestinos para mostrar que nunca habrá otro igual.” It simplifies love’s unfortune as a consequence of stupidity, while capitalizing a restoration only through experience. I had not found such gender apprehension and lecture since the Nacho Vegas – Christina Rosenvinge collaborative album. Sadly, 1971 is a bit distant from its brilliant leading piece.

Elle Belga is gentle to the ear but ultimately fails to hold its ground while it soaks in its acoustics. Actually, the lyrics continue to be quite fantastic, it’s the instrumentation that prevents these pieces from going places. It’s too dry and simplistic to its very arousing love letters; in a song as poetic as “Dulce Niña” the musical accompaniment is dreamy and even condescending in a narrative about pushing a girl forward “por aqui nadie te nombra y tus pies tienen que avanzar”, those guitar strums are only sinking the poor girl. Luckily one can overlook the background in other songs that do let the listener catch its breath. “Escondete” and “Yo Podria Dar Mi Voz” in particular elevate the album through their smoky rolls of liberating stimulation. It’s flawed and unbalanced, and also good and very moving.