The latest from Ecuador-born, Barcelona-based shoegazers Sexores, has a split personality.
In its deluxe double-album version, East / West, the latest from Ecuador-born, Barcelona-based shoegazers Sexores, has a split personality. It’s half standard-issue dream pop, competent but indistinct. However, the other half presents a more challenging, semi-experimental instrumental music. Both pieces suggest the music of “Twin Peaks: The Return,” but if that first half evokes the wispy, telegenic and somewhat clichéd indie acts that made up most of the Bang Bang Bar’s roster, the album’s more ambitious and better half recalls the more mysterious side of that landmark television reboot.
The album’s first eight songs follow the shoegaze/dream pop template to an unremarkable end. The thudding mid-tempo beat and delicate vocals of “Tropical Nest” are typical: its melody is moderately catchy and its textures, much like the album’s cover art, create a pleasant twilight mood. Lyrics like, “Give me back all my innocence,” sung in a kind of childlike resignation, sets a certain mood, if not a particularly memorable one. The keyboard melody that starts “Underneath” (more sort-of-decadent imagery there) is more vibrant, but the group doesn’t transcend such influences as OMD and Human League (or, more recently, Dirty Beaches and Beach House). In a more synth-pop vein, “Rigel” ends the album’s pop face with one of its catchiest melodies, but those wispy vocals, on which the band wears its ’80s aesthetic on its sleeve, sound like those of dozens of other groups.
The album’s eight-track back half is another matter. This set starts with a dramatic electronic fanfare: the title, “The Great Blue Hole” seems to refer back to album opener, “Tales of the East Coast: a) Bluish Lovers,” but that languid, ‘80s rhythm – in fact, the conventional rhythms of the first eight tracks as a whole – are thrown out altogether for something more abstract and unsettling.
The persistent drone of “Dazed” is even more startling; although the fragment lasts just a little longer than two minutes, those timbres hit a more memorable mark than anything on the album’s pop sides. The enigmatic hashtag of “#nsfk” follows with an even more endearing loop, neurotic and mechanical like a Lynchian dream sequence (which makes you wonder if this is an audition tape for a possible third season). “Tales of the East Coast: b) Neon Hearts,” melodramatic title image aside, is the real sequel to the album opener, ditching straight ahead beats and tweaking the starter melodies for something more surreal. If it’s not entirely original (there’s some lush Cocteau Twins textures going on), it’s still much catchier than the band’s actual pop songs.
“Sixth Floor” suggests a re-work of Air’s “Sexy Boy,” its twitchy tempo gradually picking up speed until it builds to a nerve-rattling climax, but that spooky atmosphere is lifted by the smoother, Vangelis-like ascension of “Tibidabo.” The timbres are similar but more melancholy on album closer “This Is Not My Way Back Home,” whose title seems to confess the very rootlessness that dogs this divided album. These more experimental tracks make you wish Sexores had synthesized its two strains. If it’s the West side of that album title that’s the most successful, then the ideal musical geography for the band may be somewhere in the Midwest.