Since 2009, Marie and Lionel Limiñana have been perfecting a slick, typically French hipness. ‘Malamore’, named from the erotic Italian film, is another modern, European take on the sounds of 60’s USA. It distils garage rock, girl groups and Western soundtracks into a vintage noise pop.
The short introduction ‘Athen I.A.’ immediately reveals the blueprint for the album: the deft, surf-like guitar-work underneath smoky waves of keyboards and wordless, breathy vocals.
The vision is made complete with clean, sharp drums and Lionel Limiñana’s half-spoken French in ‘El Beach’ and ‘Prisunic’. These tracks slip by, blissfully distant under a steadily increasing fuzz of guitar.
‘Garden of Love’ is propelled by the recognisable bass of Peter Hook’s guest spot. The track still reaches back 50 years into American pop history, but Hook’s high-necked bass-line could have easily been borrowed from 1990 and slowed down to match The Limiñanas in nonchalance. He also provides subtle backing vocals for Marie Limiñana’s whispered, accented English lyrics.
The title track, despite it’s obscure Italian origin, name-drops US film stars Robert Mitchum and Robert Duvall in its lyrics, along with songs ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘I Walk the Line’. Swathed in as much guitar feedback as it is cultural cache, ‘Malamore’ is the noisiest track on the record, but there is a precise control that never lets the track get lost.
One of a few instrumental tracks, ‘El Sordo’ exists in a dust cloud. Its Western movie clichés are put to work effectively, in a great mood piece, but the promised saloon shoot-out never gets going.
The issue with a music that is more style than substance is that several tracks on the album’s second half don’t stand up by themselves. ‘Dahlia Rouge’, ‘The Dead Are Walking’ and ‘Paradise Now’ all have their own hooks – a toy piano, a vocal repetition, a harmonica joining the mix – but otherwise serve only as part of the album’s atmospheric whole.
‘Zippo’, ‘Kostas’ and ‘The Train Creep A-Loopin’ avoid this with an injection of the sweet psychedelia of 60’s freak-outs, via 90’s shoegaze. The last song in particular twists its wah-wah guitar into an instrumental funk groove: shifting the focus to 70’s Blaxploitation pictures.
It’s surprising, despite Peter Hook demonstrating The Limiñanas’ ability to work with others, that there are no more collaborations. It would have brought a refreshing change to later tracks, as it had with ‘Garden Of Love’. Overall, ‘Malamore’ contains no real surprises, but also no wrong notes. The album instead acts as the soundtrack to an imaginary movie, a study-piece in effortless cool, the noise that director Jim Jarmusch could never get out of his head and onto film.
‘Malamore’ is out now via Because Music.
This Limiñanas article was written by Jake Furze, a GIGsoup contributor