Setting our hearts aflutter…
Juana Giaimo: It’s fun and infectious, stylish but roughly passionate at the same time. It’s simply Friday in his heart! But what does Friday mean this time? It’s not the joy of the expected weekend with its parties. His vocals are sharp and with a straightforward message: “If I want to light something on fire/let it be the church and the congress” — that is, the institutions that see homesexuality as a sin and an illness. It’s no wonder that the synthpop is abrasive with sudden explosions and a constant feeling of acceleration. Friday is the end of the agony, but the question is, will he be reborn to take revenge or could the institutions finish with him? Because every time I hear “All the time I feel like I’m dying and on Friday I can die” (which are his last words in the song), his exhaustion is overwhelming. Do I want Friday to arrive? Or should I keep bearing with injustice? But maybe this is after all a song about the weekend. Friday means the limit: if it takes violence to save the weekend, Alex Anwandter isn’t afraid to take action.
Leonel Manzanares: Everybody wants every day to be Friday, but how many of you have wished for the total destruction of everything you’ve ever known? “Siempre es Viernes en mi Corazón” could be mistaken for a party song, and in many ways it is, but it’s really a protest anthem. This song encapsulates perfectly what it means to be gay in Latin America; to have your entire existence scrutinized as a political act, or worse, as an affront to the dear values of both Church and State. The statements in the lyrics may sound radical, but in the face of long-time cultural and institutional repression, who would not want to set the world on fire? Yet no words are as incendiary as those strings in the bridge. They remind us that real protest songs should be celebrations, not laments.
Alfred Soto: Decent thumper whose beat Katy B’s Geeneus would have lavished on his client but shimmies beside me when the strings — angry, insistent — enter the picture. Anwandter projects an erotic ambivalence; Friday in his heart could refer to the parties he can’t wait to attend or the euphoria he’s supposed to suppress. What begins pro forma ends as a radical use of controlled hysteria.
Jessica Doyle: Lately: I keep reading Jessica Abel’s writings on creativity and nodding along, like oh there’s the bad habit holding me back, and that, and that one too. Doing laundry. Making lists of things I want to get done (aside from laundry). Listening to “Siempre Es Viernes” on repeat, tracking the dips of Alex Anwandter’s voice, and not dancing: because I associate his work not with dancing but with working. Even with his songs most dedicated to the ideas of flow and glide — i.e. the gorgeous “Shanana” — the flow and glide gives off the feel of being hard-won. I listen and I imagine a possible 2 a.m. where Alex Anwandter deleted the most recent version of the chorus and sighed, rubbing his forehead; and I imagine the next minute when he puffed out his cheeks, exhaled, and resolved to try again. Last week I was mired in self-pity. This week I’m hopeful again, writing again: listening to “Siempre” on repeat as I work.
Maxwell Cavaseno: Sounds like a slightly more stressed out version of Years & Years, but with less of the extension to lift present so much as the strain in turning one’s neck away at just the wrong angle. The jumpy disco strings failure to settle on surging or somber really give it an extra touch, and those brief moments of vocoder stand as a pinnacle of the grit that makes it something special.
Brad Shoup: It’s like a danceable cold sweat. I was taking issue with the double-tracking, but Anwandter is very clear about this whole sick cycle: another Friday, the same voices, inside and out. The string part is a furtive luxury, a private grace to draw on when the day dawns.
Cassy Gress: What’s so great about this vocal is the staccato of it, and the way his voice just collapses down to that low D, like a box falling down stairs. “Viernes! Siempre es viernes en miiiii coraZON.” It’s a great dance song, but it’s got this angry tenseness to it, from the strings, to the sharp claps, to the metallic synths, to the vocodered bassy “VIERNES”, to the way he just builds “cada vez que me DESPIERTO“. I’m glad I looked up the lyrics, because “Friday in my heart” sounds very much like joyfulness, and that ain’t this.
Edward Okulicz: So many good ideas here, and they don’t detract from each other — I love how the song burbles and bubbles along with a bouncy groove for two minutes, then you get some sad syn-strings, then some vocoder backing vocals. You can relish these touches without tiring of them. It’s so playful that I couldn’t help but long for the meaning behind the words, and the depth of the message just amplified the celebratory feel of the music, layers upon layers folding in on themselves.
Katherine St Asaph: If all those nu-house track had sonic creativity and urgency (favorite moments: 1:47 thudding the track against his forehead; the Bop-It sproing around 3:17) in place of Voice-Sample-A-into-Piano-Repeated-B song assembly; if all those apocalyptic song pops had heft to their metaphor beyond getting kinda drunkish.
Will Adams: I want to love this so bad. There are unexpected production flourishes — like the distorted snare fill at 1:42 — that keep it from getting too polite. But Anwandter’s voice doesn’t jibe with the music’s refinement. He adds extraneous notes and darts in and out of a pinched timbre. By the time the gorgeous strings enter, he feels more and more removed from the proceedings.
Jonathan Bogart: There may be a bit of cultural disconnect between what a post-Protestant English-language audience, for whom Friday means merely payday and/or the start of the weekend, assumes “It’s always Friday in my heart” means, and the associations a Catholic Spanish-language audience might make instead: a day of fasting, the day of Christ’s death, a day when the world ends and a new one begins, a day of fear and unrest and emotions running closer to the surface than they normally do. And because Catholic Spanish speakers do of course live under modern capitalism, it’s also payday and the start of the weekend: time to go out and party, to hook up, to be yourself at last — which is also, because none of the oppressive meanings of Friday disappear when the workday does, to court rejection, humiliation, and death. For Anwandter, disco is not an escapist utopia, but a stage for the personal and social dramas that he and his peers are forced to live out from week to week, and as perhaps the foremost poet of disco of the 2010s, his vision is more complex, even when he’s being searingly direct about the evils of the Church and Congress, than a casual listen will give him credit for.
Megan Harrington: So often music is considered something of a universal language. I don’t understand the vast majority of Einstürzende Neubauten’s lyrics, but I understand industrial music and the tone of darkness, alienation, and invention is communicated roughly. Though this is an approach to listening to culturally and linguistically unfamiliar music, it’s one that shaves off layers of meaning and leaves even the most astute and studied listener with as bad a translation as Google provides. I remember enough high school Spanish to translate “Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón” as “It’s Always Friday in My Heart” and coupled with the pleasant disco groove, I’m left with the light impression of a hymn to the weekend. It’s thanks only to co-Jukeboxer Juana Giamo that I have any idea about the pain that lurks just beneath the sunny title. This is a song that seeks understanding, a song written to share the burden of those who experience persecution based on their sexuality. We are lucky to have such a generous and talented translator to connect Anwandter to an audience that needs him.