Santiago is burning…
Andrew Casillas: Alex Anwandter has a charismatic, almost singular approach to dance-pop. Eschewing the elaborate beats of his Euro influences and the naivety of like-minded artists like Javiera Mena, Anwandter instead finds a way to mix nuanced dance grooves and didactic lyricism into something both light and robust. And “¿Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo?” showcases this approach at its best. It’s an explicit statement for gay rights but not at the expense of the delirious rush of the 4/4. While the track is nowhere near as immediate as his best work (check out “Cabros” by Odisea if you wanna hear this guy go hard), it’s still capable of piquing your interest as a passive listen or changing your afternoon by forcing you to play it over and over again.
Jonathan Bogart: “Like Javiera Mena, but a dude” isn’t the best way to get on my good side. For one thing, Javiera Mena has a voice; Anwandter sings in the wan, listless tradition of the dude from Babasónicos, the South American version of the strangled yelp that plagues North American indie rock. The track is gorgeous electrodisco, with a lovely string breakdown in the middle, but he does his damnedest to make me not care.
Anthony Easton: The drums and bells that mark the beginning and how they work against the keyboards is smart — it knows how both pop and pop’s discontents work — and that his voice is as smooth and rich as hollandaise only makes things better.
Iain Forrester: This production is seriously impressive, always carrying momentum but throwing in varied gorgeous sounds and detail upon detail. There are several songs’ worth of inventive string arrangements; there’s a little click right at the back of the chorus that for the longest time I thought was someone in another room closing a door; there are excited whoops that I’m not completely sure are human but raise a smile every time. Alex’s voice is a bit too nasal for my liking, but it would be impossible to ruin a groove this good.
Erick Bieritz: Antwandter’s music has gotten dancier from band to solo-by-pseudonym to eponymous recording, and the drag throw-down of “CPVCM” is a sensible next step. As nu-disco goes there’s nothing revelatory — nothing that Kitsuné artists didn’t explore pretty thoroughly already — but it’s infectious and well-executed and is one of the high points of an album made uneven by some breathy balladry.
Brad Shoup: “How can you live with yourself,” he’s asked, and the heavenly disco strings have an instant rejoinder.
Alfred Soto: A San Juan disco circa 1986, and pretty cool: synth strings and house piano make a serious racket over the outro. Anwandter’s sudsy vocal is too polite though. First Kindness, now this — why can’t these guys hire someone else to do the singing?
Michelle Myers: An extravagant combination of sounds that shouldn’t work — disco strings and house pianos and 90s dance shouts and screwed vocals — and yet, it does because very aspect of this song is a shameless hook. It’s like a hook fractal. Over this mutant hyper-dance, Alex Anwandter laments, “how can you live / how can you live / how can you live / with yourself?” The classic pop drama of miserable lyrics set to an upbeat tune suits the song’s anachronistic instrumentation. Afterall, dancing through your tears is timeless.
Colin Small: While I don’t understand Spanish, every emotion that I hear sounds completely appropriate. Its neither whiny, nor ridiculous. Such things do not happen often. The result is immersive, like drowning in a bathtub of sound.