Los Liquits have been eluding me for years.
I’ve been trying to get my hands on their debut album Karaoke ever since I first learned of them in 2002 after their performance at LAMC in New York, but with very little success. The usual haunts, the internet, and even two trips to the band’s native Mexico yielded little more than blank stares and shoulder shrugs, or “teníamos una copia…”
To top things off, when they were set to return to New York last August on the Conéctate tour (with Café Tacuba, Maldita Vecindad, and Ely Guerra), the boys decided to skip la Gran Manzana and head straight to Miami. Mucho esneaky, indeed! So you can imagine my surprise and ensuing delight when, without even looking for it, I stumbled upon their most recent release Jardín at a listening station in Virgin the other day.
The hunt has been frustrating, but the reward is quite enjoyable. Jardín, released March 8th stateside, is an upbeat collection of ten bouncy, extremely poppy, indie rock tracks. Produced by Joselo Rangel of Café Tacuba (who Liquits worked and toured with for his solo release Oso), Jardín channels the Beatles and fellow mexicanos Zoé more than los Tacubos themselves (though they do make a few cameos on the album).
Made up of a simple guitar-bass-drums combo, with your basic rock chords, vocal harmonies, and the occasional keyboards (courtesy of Meme from Cafeta), there’s really nothing groundbreaking or innovative about this album, and yet it’s damn good in its absolute simplicity and accessibility. Liquits have mastered the pop-rock aesthetic, accomplishing their apparent desire to produce a more commercial album than their previous (elusive) release.
The true charm of Jardín lies in its lyrics. While they don’t say much (again: nothing profound here), they do a really good job of it. Between the “yeah yeah yeah”s and “pa pa pa (pachanga)”s, los Liquits play with the Spanish (read: Mexican) language with absolute genius. The first track, “Pachanguero,” sets the playful tone for the entire album with a lyrical tongue twister and a bouncy beat: “Voy a salir pa convivir / Luego morir y así vivir / Y conseguir una chamaca / Que machaca en la pachanga / La chuleta de cachete/ Parrandera, tequilera, caguamera…” Try saying that ten times fast. Then there’s the overly simplistic track “Chido” that really makes no sense at all (“Chido güey / Chido gay / Chido sexy / Chido el rey”), but is so catchy and easy to sing along to that it figures among the album’s highlights.
Like most pop songs, many of the other tracks are about love, but with a humorous, almost tongue-in-cheek twist that is more Nicorette that bubblegum ("Tu sonrisa / se te ve muy bien / Cuando fumas / se te ve mucho mejor" and "No hay droga mejor / Que en tus brazos estar"). Some of the best tracks, however, are slightly more surreal in nature. The samba bossa-tinged "Viko" adds some variety and synthesizers to the mix, and the super-saccharine (and lyrically wacky) title track, "Jardín," featuring Mexican pop-rock princesita Natalia Lafourcade singing about peyote, nudity, and neon apple trees, is a true standout, leaving you chanting along "Quiero correr desnudo y ser feliz" by the end. And who doesn’t?
All in all, a solid, albeit lightweight, album. It makes me wonder what their more obscure material is like. And the hunt continues….