Pega Monstro

Alfarroba

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Portuguese duo Pega Monstro (Júlia Reis on guitar and Maria Reis on drums; both on vocals) whip up some impressive noise on their second album, Alfarroba. More focused and bigger-sounding than their debut, yet still a ferocious blend of Shop Assistants-style blurr pop and Sonic Youth lite avant fuzz, the record shows they have fully mastered the art of making noise pop. They continue to be whizzes at crafting short, brutally melodic slabs of eardrum-punching noise, but this time out they prove to be just as impressive when pulling back. The quietly melancholic, keyboard-led "És Tudo o Que Eu Queria" gives their lovely voices some room to breathe, "Estrada" cuts the tempo and adds a whooshing Sonic Youth-ian freak-out in the middle, and "Fado d'Água Fria" is a pretty acoustic song that lopes along peacefully and provides a nice break near the end of the album. The star of the show is still the clattering, invigorating noise pop and they dole out plenty of thrills in that regard, with tunes like "Braço de Ferro" and the epic-length "Amêndoa Amarga" radiating some truly desperate energy, and the super-hooky "Voltas Para Trás" and "Não Consegues" rollicking along like lost '90s hits that never were, but should have been. The latter sounds like it would have fit right in on an early Velocity Girl album. Throughout Alfarroba, the duo sing and play with an infectious vigor and enthusiasm that makes it impossible for the listener not to get swept up and carried away. There may be other better-known bands around in 2015 making this kind of overloaded noise pop, enough that Pega Monstro might get lost in the shuffle. They really shouldn't though, because Alfarroba is a near brilliant example of how to blend pop hooks with noise to get a nuanced, emotionally enriched listening experience.

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