Friday, May 6, 2016

There Are 3 Las in Shalalalas

The Shalalalas were one of the many bands I discovered at last year's Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona. On the festival's final night, after a stunning set from Interpol, Vicky and I made our way over to a smaller stage (situated, wonderfully enough, right next to the sea) and sat on a set of stone steps to rest our aching feet while we enjoyed an altogether more gentle performance.

Italian duo Sara Cecchetto and Alex Hare describe the music they make together as 'lo-fi dream folk', but that description does The Shalalalas a grave disservice; if you sent me an email with the phrase 'lo-fi dream folk' in the subject line, I'd probably delete it without even opening it so as to save myself from a dozen tracks' worth of duff, hazy-sounding rubbish that says nothing and doesn't go anywhere.

However, I really liked The Shalalalas' set at Primavera (particularly a song called Lewis, which reminded me of The Magnetic Fields' early stuff), and upon my return to British soil I hunted down the band's album, helpfully titled There Are 3 Las in Shalalalas.

This is a really lovely collection of songs; the production is far crisper and far easier on the ear than you'd expect 'lo-fi dream folk' to be, and while most of the tracks are built upon simple acoustic guitar patterns, there are loads of little extra touches that add colour and keep things feel fresh throughout. For example, Wonder features a jubilant-sounding trumpet, whereas the downtempo Me and Terry houses gorgeous woodwind solo that reminds me of The Low Anthem at their most soul-restoring. Just for Fun (which you'll already have heard if you watched the video at the beginning of this post) has a rumbly, purposeful bassline that's very effective. The album strikes a perfect balance: it's cohesive without being too samey, and varied without ever sounding disjointed.

3 Las is also a very romantic album, which is perhaps why The Shalalalas' set sounded so right on that late spring night in Barcelona. Opening track Dust, for example, finds Cecchetto in a daydreamy mood as she walks through the London drizzle, while Car Alarms (contrary to its title) is a peaceful song about a night spent lying awake in bed and thinking of someone you wish was with you.

Whether you're picnicking in the park or struggling through a lonely, sleepless night, There Are 3 Las in Shalalalas is a superb soundtrack that's bound to sound great alongside whatever mood you happen to be in when you hear it. It's available to buy on iTunes, or you can listen to the whole thing right now on SoundCloud.

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