A La Piscina A La Piscina


Aias AiasA La Piscina

7 / 10

Aias A La Piscina


Two girlfriends get together in secret for a month to play the guitar and the drums (for the first time) and to compose a couple of songs to surprise their boyfriends on their birthday. This is how the Catalan lo-fi phenomenon of the year (and surely of the decade too) began: Aias. These young women who went from playing for their friends to signing on with Captured Tracks, the “in” recording company as far as noisy girls go ( Vivian Girls, Brilliant Colours, Beach Fossils). Laia and Gaia, who were quickly joined by Miriam (a seamstress friend who had no doubt about offering herself as a bass player when they started to get gigs), are still pinching themselves. They go on tour in the United States, singing short songs (pure pop craftsmanship, lasting less than three minutes) in Catalan, noisy ( “La Truita” and all the others) and attractively ingenuous – “A la Piscina”, with their “ pa-pa-para-para-pa” and their “ papallones” (that is, “butterflies” in Catalan).

Their thing is pop with whoa-whoa-whoa distortion, sort of like the wild side of Nosoträsh if Nosotrash had listened more to The Ronettes and less to Mercedes Ferrer. Because the start-up of “Bali” is so old-school girl band that it’s clear it was only a question of time before a small label like Captured Tracks came across one of their demos and wanted to launch them. The story had more to do with friends of friends than with the legend of talent spotters. In the age of Myspace, living in Barcelona scores almost as many points for being heard all over the world as living in Brooklyn. But you still need a friend in New York to start the fever. And they had one.

But let’s focus on the album. Because if Bethany Consentino ( Best Coast) is constantly circling the telephone (she spends most of her first album wondering if “he” will call), the girls of Aias let their men be the boss (and cook, in the amusing “Tu Manes”); they wonder why the underground takes so long (in the narcotic “Quan Tornis Demà”); and they imagine that the streets of Barcelona (the neighbourhood of Poble Sec, specifically) are a racetrack (in the child-like “Moto”). They really get into garage pop (without a doubt, the genre that has offered the greatest number of surprises in the last year) in the wonderful “Una Setmana Sencera” (a cut that summarises the album perfectly, two notes under the festive, self-titled “Aias” and three above the spectral ballad called “Vine amb mi”).

“A La Piscina” is definitely a good album, even if only because it dares to stand up to the invasion of female lo-fi surfer music that is flooding in here from the United States. It’s lacking a little depth in the lyrics (this isn’t a folk album, of course, and we might also add that Consentino’s turns around the telephone aren’t exactly Pulitzer material either, but in her case they have direct precedents and are an homage, in their own way, to 50’s and 60’s Spector and girl-group lyrics) and more melodic risk (at times the songs seem not to end, but rather to layer themselves one on top of the other), but you can’t blame them. They’re just starting out. And that is always complicated. So we’ll be waiting curiously to see what they do next.

Laura Fernández

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