Los Bonsáis

Nordeste

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The noisy pop duo Los Bonsáis take inspiration from the melodic side of C-86, the fuzzy side of Sarah Records, and blend the two into something very pleasing. Their first two EPs were bracingly good, giving notice to savvy indie pop consumers everywhere that they were a band to watch. Their debut album, Nordeste, fulfills the promise of those EPs by doing exactly more of the same, only a tiny little bit more skillfully this time. Nel's songwriting and playing is top-notch noise pop perfect, while Helena's vocals are more assured and higher in the mix, and the songs rush by in a flash of colorful sound. Most of them stick to the chainsaw-meets-sweetie-pie template perfected a million years ago by groups like Shop Assistants, though a couple slower, less distortion-saturated tracks are wedged in to give ears a breather and hearts a quick twist. Helena's double-tracked vocals sound extra good on these songs, and they prove that the duo don't need to have the noise levels set to ten for them to thrive. Make noise they do, though, and when it's chained to jumped-up tempos and songs as hooky as "Como Si Nada" or "Plan B," the duo really click. It's not a new sound, obviously, or a particularly complicated one, but when a band gets the mix wrong, the results can be painfully bad. Los Bonsáis always get the balance right here, and it makes for a short, happy listening experience.

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