Spanish Love Songs - Schmaltz

11 songs
40:36 minutes
***** ****
Uncle M


You must fear the worst when a band calls itself Spanish Love Songs and their album Schmaltz. Are these the heirs of Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin, you might ask yourself. But donít worry, because a book Ė or a CD Ė should not always be judged by its cover. In the case of Spanish Love Songs, we are in the presence of an American punk rock song with a strong emotional component, although the latter is more rooted in the muscular emo rock of the Nineties than in the whiny garbage the genre devolved into some years later.

Itís obvious that Dylan Slocum on vocals and guitar is the bandís brainchild, and his emotive vocals give the songs a naked authenticity that you rarely find in music these days. I have to admit: there is nothing truly original about Spanish Love Songsí music, but they more than make that up with some of the strongest songwriting I have come across in a long, long time. The two-minute short opener Nuevo starts rather sedately, but then build up tension to segue seamlessly into Sequels, Remakes And Adaptations, at a little under two minutes the albumís shortest track. Itís here where the band convinces for the first time. This is upbeat punk rock, although it feels more like heartfelt rock music with powerful instrumentation. Dylanís vocals have a strong vibrato, which may turn off some people, but I found myself really mesmerised by his incredibly energetic performance. The songs deal with personal issues like growing up, breakups, finding yourself when youíre growing older. Bellyache is once again a more mid-tempo track, maybe not as rousing as the preceding explosive outburst, but still good enough to make you want to listen to what follows. And then we get three amazing songs: Buffalo Buffalo, Carl and The Boy Considers His Haircut, where the vocalist wonders if he can ever find a good haircut that hasnít been co-opted by the Nazis yet. The melodies are unforgettable, the instrumentation is fierce yet also knows restraint when it is asked for.

What follows is no worse, and one wonders where Dylan Slocum finds all these great tunes. Even the acoustic Aloha To No One which ends the album on a moody note doesnít disappoint.

At times I felt reminded of Hot Water Music, although Spanish Love Songs have enough charisma to stand out on their own. Their sound may be from the Nineties, but their great emo punk songs are timeless and will certainly never lose any of their sparkle. Fans of handmade rock music with that certain punch wonít find any better right now.

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