can’t quite make out that sound. I can’t stuff this oddity with vowels. Twisted into the shreds of a classic New Order hook, there’s a creaking give and no take, a sharing of eras and far too many genres unmentionable that shouldn’t sound so pressing anymore. I mean, there was Broken Social Scene after all. But that noise. That language. It’s such a cacophony of post-posts, such a ballast of every and all, but between the sheets of amber and spit-out machinery, there’s more crudely-smooth pieces than peace, more urgency than the simplistic spell of so much electronic-fed pop. In fact, let’s try words again: with Aeropuerto, Todosantos has constructed one of the more beguiling, multi-faceted debuts of recent years.
Straight from the brokeback heat of Caracas, Venezuela, this sometime duo, sometime quartet enlisted co-production help from Cardopusher, Jimmy Flamante, and Helios 7.0—household names to you all, I know—in making Aeropuerto. There’s often the sense that the band begins with a simple hook pulsing in the head of either Alberto Stangerone or Ernesto Pantin and pushes that textured sound into programming, synth patterns, and guitar hooks before deciding which to keep and which to shed. Songs, loosely considered, become elements of instrumental flux as they experiment with just what works best with that insistent, nagging melody. In the end, this leads to an album almost overloaded with genre-stabs; if they didn’t work so well in concert and if their hooks lacked the brio of their brass, Aeropuerto would mark another forgettable blur for Urban Outfitters. Fortunately, words lose out anew against an album that wants to make cactus-spines grow from the lush.
Of course, the whatsits and whosits are so well-known now as to be assumed. Todosantos is working short-order cookery here, flipping from sandy post-rock explodioso to dandy electro-pop, back to the slim-boned savoir nuit of post-punk and the acoustic lament of Elliot Smith balladeeristry. While opener “1999” jumbles out of the gate with a simple programmed beat and clarion guitar parts, the kind of post-punk workout so common it was even spotted in the Midwest three years ago, “A Veces” follows with a doseable synth hook that introduces the band’s gumptious sense of melody. “Diciembre” flirts with gummy emo but muddies the water with enough static and keyboard layers that it might well be the first loveable track worthy of Victory, but “Epica” is a bountiful scrape of vocals diced-up into ambient washes of guitar and bells.
While Myspace is fixated on the glammy dance-punk of “Ian Curtis,” wherein the band brings the Clinic to the brink of rockous housepital (“I should shoot you, I should shoot you, Curtis”—somebody start a Wikipedia thread), I prefer the throwback Venezuelan synth-pop of “Antrapado en los 80’s.” Atop a dayliner synth pattern and another New Order-style throb, Todosantos makes its own Three O’Clock High fight club—the brawlers with mascara drizzling in their eyes, nails too long to fist, and an audience too dazed to remember just whose lunchtime macaroni–throw was at the root of this beef. Elsewhere, with both “Panda Sonora” and “Ano Nuevo,” the band hones its talent for languid late-90s instrumentals, be it with live drums and extended guitarscapes or seizured drum-programming and Thom Yorkeian drawling.
This largesse has its payoffs and its debts. By album’s end, Aeropuerto is swift in departure, an attachment that leaves no name or number but the impact of presence gone. A burned match in your drink and rouge on your sleeve. It’s untouchable, vague, frustratingly aware of its own potency. There’s a smirk in the adoration of such a record, but it’s never your own, it’s that of a solitary form summered through town and leaving a choked smile as retribution for your affection.