Remember four or five years ago, when American indie pop was all warm and shimmery and earnest? Remember the high, yearning vocals and pretty, delicate guitars? Since then, many (like me) may have grown cold, cynical and grumpy. Yet, if the stars align, I can still find a place in my shriveled heart for albums that summon this long-lost spirit.
Enter Kanaku y El Tigre, a Lima-based Peruvian indie-folk-pop duo. It helps that Quema Quema Quema, their sophomore album and their first international release, is a lot better than most of the albums that run in similar circles. Its rhythms are tighter, the groove is stronger, and the texture of the percussion is far more interesting. In a particularly nice touch, the band employs the always amazing pedal steel, completing the hazy, dreamy feel. Although the tempo waxes and wanes, the record does a great job maintaining a cohesive feel, consistently and skillfully evoking a sort of luminous, nostalgic mood.
The title track, “Quema Quema Quema,” which means “Burn Burn Burn,” is a reference to the classic novel On the Road. That nod to Kerouac is generally indication of the vibe of this album–earnest, yearning, maybe a little naïve, but all the more charming for it. Some listeners might initially find this sincerity and sweetness a little cloying, but try to get past your cynical reflex. Quema Quema Quema is really a lovely record, beautifully executed. Unleash your inner teenager and bask in its fuzzy warmth.
Quem Quem Quem is released by Tiger’s Milk/ Strut Records.