Monday, March 17, 2008

Album Review: Memo Rex

Fernando Romero

Rock en español has a future; and the future is Zoé.

Memo Rex Commander y el Corazón Atómico de la Vía Láctea is the band’s third album. The LP is a compilation of 13 tracks delivering a sonic adventure weaving through the stylistic paths of alternative, synth and Brit-pop, garage rock and grunge; but everything about it is hard-rocking Zoé. The album has a blend of guitar-driven songs, up-tempo pop melodies as well as melancholic moody ballads; all of them shadowed with headphone-tweaking sound effects. The record shows a noticeable synth-pop influence.

The quintet out of Mexico City has cultured a revolutionary sound transcending the spheres of music and language. Much of the lyrical content throughout the band’s career has been multilingual. Unlike any other rock en español band, the band’s sound is reminiscent of a cross-breed between Nirvana and The Killers, added with Spanish and English lyricism. Memo Rex… is a powerful and formative effort.

The highlights of the album are inescapable. Opening track “Memo Rex” evokes a psychedelic emotion of sorts. The noisy guitars and drums all echo in crescendo until the acoustic chords and melodic choruses of vocalist Leon Larregui kick it up a notch.

Perhaps the most notable track on the album follows suit. “Vía Láctea,” with its pop-beat, hums with a heavy bass and becomes an authoritative rock song when you listen to the lyrics and the keyboards that are almost imperceptible in the backdrop.

“No Me Destruyas” is another goody. Also a song with a stylistic pop sound similar to anything The Cure ever made, it makes you want to get up and dance . Another track to remember is “Ms. Nitro,” with grungy guitars and sonic, sometimes noisy keyboards coupled with a good chorus. “The Room,” sung completely in English is another unforgettable track. Larregui’s voice is perfect for this one. The opening keyboards and the subtle yet graceful composition of the guitar chords create a moody and melancholic ballad.

“Human Space Volt,” starts off heavy and is all punk-rage. It is a synth-pop track that rides on a rhythmic-guitar overdrive. The band closes with a track that is the epitome of Zoé. “Paz,” has an ethereal, almost gloomy start. The percussion and the drums are intermittent. The lyrics are poetic, “paz en forma de afecto / paz en todo el universo,” Then, the beat picks up with frenzy with electronic synth-pop, a faster drum beat, the guitars on overdrive, the bass in the background and the chorus in English for a universal sound that rocks in any language.

Released in July 2006, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Mexican charts. The album received Gold certification for 40,000 copies sold in four weeks, an exemplary effort for a band signed onto an indie label.

The band has garnished critical acclaim and in the past year Memo Rex was nominated for three Latin Grammys, including “Best Alternative Music Album,” “Best Alternative Music Song,” for “No Me Destruyas” and “Producer of the Year,” for music producer Phil Vinall. The album was also nominated for “Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album,” at the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony which was held on Feb. 10 2008.

The band’s fusion of different music styles as well as the hybrid of Spanish and English lyrics are perfect for fans of good rock music whether you’re bilingual or not, it doesn’t matter.

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