Alex Anwandter - Rebeldes

Rebeldes, Alex Anwandter
5AM, Chile
Rating: 90
by Blanca Méndez

The title of Alex Anwandter’s latest work for me immediately triggered memories of the hugely successful teen drama, Rebelde. And not just for the obvious reason but also because the music on Rebeldes feels so youthful, so idealistic in its pursuit of what feels right. All ridiculous drama aside, the characters in Rebelde were ultimately all teenagers with teenage concerns and teenage desires in a world that revolved around these concerns and desires. Anwandter, by going back to pop basics, has created that same kind of self-centered world with Rebeldes. The album may strike some as too straightforward, but the music’s beauty lies precisely within that simple framework of lustful melodies, romantic strings, and direct lyrics.

The title track could easily double as the Rebelde theme song, its together foreverness like a high school BFF pact, linked pinkies and all (or like the engagement ring Miguel gave Mia at the end of the series). But perhaps the most Rebelde-appropriate track on the album is “Tatuaje.” The “tatuaje de nuestra epoca mas gris” is like the scar that Miguel’s accident left on his relationship with Mia. When Anwandter sings, “pon tu mano en mi pelo, conecta el sentimiento,” I see Mia at Miguel’s bedside, desperate for him to remember who she is. But as much as I’d like to make this entire review a discussion of Rebelde (and I can tie every single song on this album back to the show), I will spare you.

The nervous percussion of opener “Como puedes vivir contigo mismo” serves as an undercurrent to the song’s “Luz de Piedra de Luna”-evoking disco strings, like the jittery pulse beneath the rapture of the if-this-is-wrong-I-don’t-want-to-be-right sentiment of “aunque sea pecado yo me siento en el cielo.” The music is layered so meticulously that it’s hard not to get wrapped up in that same sentiment. (If this song is wrong, I don’t want to be right either, Alex.) The peppy syncopation of the percussion in “Felicidad” sounds like it could be in a retro aerobics video, but the slight dissonance of the piano chords, drone of the synth, and the drunken confession-emulating sloppiness of the trumpet save it from venturing too far into shiny spandex territory. For album closer “Fin de semana en el cielo,” Anwandter dabbles in the kind of sultry melancholy that Ely Guerra does so well, with morbid declarations like “tu y yo nos vamos al infierno” and “si tu avion se cae, aunque me disparen, te quiero” that are at once frightening and hopelessly romantic.

We all know Anwandter is a musician who is always exploring. Even though we loved Teleradio Donoso and mourned its end, the marvelous and fascinating dystopian landscape created by Odisea last year quickly healed that wound. Not one to lag between ideas and inspirations, Anwandter has, this time around and with the help of Cristian Heyne, crafted an album that seems to almost retreat into simplicity. But when you hear the bare honesty of it, it’s a purity that’s almost virtuous, and you know that this is no retreat. Alex Anwandter only moves forward.