Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Party's Over

In Spanish ya se acabó la fiesta which all fans of Spanish band (artist?) DELUXE will recognise as the opening line to the track 'Hay colillas en el suelo' ('There are cigarette ends on the floor') from the penultimate album Fin De Un Viaje Infinito (2007, EMI Music Spain).

So why start a music blog with them (him), then?

Firstly, because Deluxe is one of my favourite Spanish bands, worthy of addition to any music collection (and certainly to mine). Indeed he holds a special place in my family - my kids (Pablo 4, Lucia, nearly 3) know the words to most of the songs from the last two albums and are always asking to see the DVD of the concert in La Rivera (Madrid) from October 2007 - their own special kiddies karaoke ensues everytime! - and my extremely better half (Inma) and I have followed his movement since he appeared.

Secondly, and more appropriately, due to the fact that Xoel López, the man behind (and in front of, come to think of it!) the Indie Pop group Deluxe has decided to call time on his project after 7 years of intense record production and touring.

The former Elephant Band man has, wisely, chosen to quit while he is ahead, so all that is left for me to do is to enlighten those (mainly the non-Spaniards amongst us) who may be wondering who the hell this guy is with a brief review of his music.

After leaving Elephant Band to start his project Deluxe, Xoel signed to the Spanish Indie label, Mushroom Pillow and released his first album Not What You Had Thought (2001). A presentation tour of over 100 gigs (including the FIB Festival in Benicasim, Castellón, Spain), accompanied by a first hit single 'I'll see you in London', which included a cover version of The Smith's 'There is a light that never goes out' (immediately shooting him up in my rating!), put Deluxe well and truly on the Spanish indie map.

His second LP, If Things Were To Go Wrong (Mushroom Pillow, 2003), again with English lyrics, reasserted Xoel's position as one of Spain's leading talents on the music scene and was even edited in Japan. Xoel's mix of catchy pop songs and more melancholic ballads, likening him to Beck, with a touch of The Who (cover version of Baba O'Riley included) and Morrissey, meant he was going from strength to strength and many thought international recogition was only a matter of time.

Perhaps surprisingly, then, was the move to Spanish lyrics for his third venture, Los Jóvenes Mueren Antes De Tiempo (Mushroom Pillow, 2005). However, Xoel had it clear in his mind that this was his language and that the important thing was the music and tracks like 'El antiheroe' and 'Mira' prove him right.

The forth album saw another significant change in Deluxe's development as he signed for EMI Spain before releasing Fin De Un Viaje Infinito (EMI Music Spain, 2007). This, in my humble opinion, is the most complete album by far. Previous offerings had all included great tracks, but 'Viaje...' is a truly great album. From the opening piano in 'Colillas en el suelo' to the closing hidden track, there is not one wasted moment on this album with 'Colillas...', 'Gigante', 'No es mi primera vez', 'Requiem (no fui yo)', 'Simone' and 'A un metro de distancia' for the popites and 'Tendremos que esperar', 'Rostro de actriz' and 'De tanto callar' for the balladites well backed up by a further 5 tracks. In fact, if anyone were naïve enough to go out and buy something on the strength of this post, then this would be a wise choice, even if your command of Spanish is no more than dos cervezas, por favor.

Almost a year to the day of the release of 'Viaje...', Deluxe bring out their fifth and final (for now) album, Reconstrucción (EMI Music Spain, 2008). A follow up to 'Viaje...' is a tall order and, on first listening to this album, you wonder if it can keep up with the Jones'. However, the more you listen to it the more you realise what a good bunch of songs this is. Fewer, albeit unforgettable, songs for the popites, such as 'Historia Universal (el amor no es lo que piensas)', 'Adiós Corazón' and 'Este último encuentro' sit comfortably beside the more-predominant slow songs, including 'El cielo de Madrid', 'Los días fríos' and 'Y si aguanto un poco más'. Also worthy of mention is the extra DVD of the La Riviera concert (Madrid, October 2007), which gives you an idea of what a Deluxe gig is like (enhanced by guest appearances from Josele Santiago - Los Enemigos -, and Amaral, amonst others.

The result, the end, fitting or not, to Deluxe.

What more can I say? Perhaps I should start and finish with 'Gracias por todo' to Xoel López. A seemingly unassuming person who has made a more than significant contribution to Spanish indie pop during the past decade.

And, who knows, a Hasta luego ('see you later') as oppposed to an Adiós followed by the best wishes whatever for the future to this Galician genius.

In the meantime, a taste of Deluxe, followed by their complete discography.

De Deluxe


Pepa said...

Está muy chulo el widget que has insertado, así se puede ir escuchando si un grupo te interesa por cómo suena en esos fragmentos de sus canciones. Ánimo con el blog.¡El lenguaje de la música es universal!(aunque no entienda tus post, snif...snif)

Nick C said...

Thanks Pepa, but I'm sure you understand more than you admit!