Some bands operate in a parallel universe. Or perhaps it’s just those away from this crumbling isle. Away from pressures, the compromise of cool, the people who demand a style from you, an influence and to be in tune with the values they currently hold close until they’re told otherwise by the influencers they claim not to be conned by.
Sheltered away in Spain, they get to be removed from the plastic drama. Well, our drama anyway.
Belako are perhaps the most celebrated band from España since Julio Iglesias last took his backing band to China. Having taken their home country by storm from the tiny Mungia in the north near Bilbao, the dreaded Corona halted their trip to the U.S and delayed this, their fourth L.P but first on an international label.
To pigeonhole Belako as purely post-punk would be lazy as they possess far more in their armoury.
There is a fantastic rawness to the record, when too many albums are polished to the point of fracture, by necessity or design, Plastic Drama has pointy, splintered edges, the crackle of amp, distorted vocal, dirt under the finger nails that makes it feel live, alive, that they are playing next door to you. Which stands to reason when you learn they self-produced it.
They describe the record as “….about the harsh reality our generation is facing and the only good use of new technology, which is the ability to spread the word and call for action”.
‘Tie Me Up‘ wishes it was in an alternative universe without “a crystal ceilings threat” keeping them penned and hemmed in.
‘The Craft‘ is as you might suspect, a tribute to the nineties film about witches in a quiet American suburb, channelling the strange energy of the movie and discordant rhythms and styles.
There are so many textures and shades being toyed with here, and even languages with ‘Sirene‘ in French whereas the majority of the record is in English and the odd smattering of their mother tongue.
‘Plastic Drama‘ holds an almost trip hop rhythm and melody with echoes of Zero 7 with the vocals. ‘Profile Anxiety‘ does have a ring of No Doubt about it or maybe if Gwen Stefani guested with The Breeders.
Final track, ‘Truce’, comes on like The White Stripes western bar room bourbon soaked in black and white crossed with an Irish after hours whiskey song.
This patchwork quilt of a record could have too much going on but it is reigned in just enough that everything has its place and the differing styles from song to song gives it a refreshing eclecticism that sets them apart from their peers.
If this is album number four then maybe they are reaching their peak.