León Larregui - Solstis

Solstis, León Larregui
EMI, México
Rating: 44
by Enrique Coyotzi

Leader and vocalist of Mexico’s most overrated band, Zoé, León Larregui surprised no one when he decided to take a shot at a solo career. He had expressed these wishes a couple of years ago and, after the absurd success of his group’s MTV Unplugged album, this longing naturally materialized into the Cuernavaquense’s debut full length, the disposable and forgettable Solstis.

Why has Larregui’s beginning as a solo artist come as no surprise, but rather as something logical? He recently explained in an interview with Rulo for Frente that making a solo album was “something vital for me, as an artist, to keep growing.” Fair enough. But, on the other hand, Larregui has also finally reached that point where his rock stardom forced him to succumb to the comfortable attraction of making a name of his own. Similar to major label rocks icons that took the same road, such as Paul Banks and Thom Yorke, the results in Solstis are nothing but underwhelming–even worse, rolling in cheesiness, flatness and frigidness disguised by supposed heartfelt emotions.

Assisted by Adanowsky’s (of course) identifiable safe and novice production, Solstis isn’t a terrible release, at least not musically. There’s '70s classic rock throw-outs, chanson française a-la Serge Gainsbourg numbers, plenty of Beatlisms, and pleasant-to-the-ear instrumentation. But what about the record’s core, which feels hollow, empty, desolate, overall replete of Zoéisms? Is there any emotional depth to be found in it? Well, there’s the standout “Brillas,” which displays a moving chorus (though sounding very Caravana-ish). Then there’s “Perdonar,” which partially emotes but basically makes you think Larregui had been listening to In Rainbows a little too much. Still, two okay tracks don't make a good album.

The artist, unfortunately, can't seem to step out of his comfort zone. Committed to cosmic references ("Aurora Boreal") and blatantly pretentious song titles ("Resistolux," "Resguardum Ether")–no doubt a personal signature–Larregui only manages to eke out commonplace works. First released promotional cuts, including lead single "Como Tú (Magic Music Box)," aren't that bothersome until you pay close attention. The corniness characterized in these pieces is a red flag for what's to come. And, please, let Elvis Costello or Morrissey do their thing without lazily emulating them.

Instead of opting for a pseudonym, Larregui has chosen to use his real name to present this off-putting assemblage of self-aware personal love songs. But Alex Anwandter he ain’t. While the Chilean pop genius crushed souls with his palpable heartache, Larregui presumes to having made an intimate record without giving us any kind of substantial background because, as revealed in the Frente interview, he believes music is just to be listened to. And I agree. Sort of. Yet, with such little information, uninspiring execution, and notable egocentrism, the structure behind Solstis ultimately reeks of self-importance–one that cares about León Larregui more than we ever could.