Las Kellies

Total Exposure

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The Argentinean trio Las Kellies' self-titled 2011 album sprinkled in a few dubby, sweetly grooving tracks in amongst the uptempo riot grrrl and punk-influenced jams that made up the bulk of the record. By the time of their next record in 2013, Total Exposure, the band had ditched almost all the distorted guitars, shouted vocals, and sped-up tempos in favor of a sound that's every bit as much fun, but it's a different, more relaxed kind of fun. Bringing in Ivi Lee from South American reggae band Nairobi Dub to produce and having legendary producer Dennis "Blackbeard" Bovell contribute vocals should give listeners an idea what the band was aiming for. Instead of sounding like a punk band with a fondness for the Slits (whose debut album Bovell not so coincidentally produced), now they sound like a reggae band with a fondness for the Slits, adding plenty of reverb, space, and dubby sparseness to their arsenal. It's a slightly trickier proposition to pull off and could have led to a drowsy album that subverted the effervescent nature of the group's playing and singing. Luckily, they invest the songs with plenty of happy energy, and make sure each one has a sharp enough hook that listeners won't just stay awake, they'll get up and groove along. They don't totally abandon the spiky guitars and jagged tempos, they can still be heard from time to time, and there's still plenty of riot in these girls. Songs like the spacy "Two Types," which features Ian Svenonius' dulcet tones on co-lead vocals, and the stuttering "King Lion" show that the trio hasn't given up on making a post-punk racket. They can still do that, but now they have songs as honey sweet as "Golden Love" and as dub tricky as "Jealousy," and sound equally at home with each. Total Exposure is the work of a band gently exploring the limits of its sound, making some cool changes, and totally sounding better than it did before (which was already really good). That's a total win in anyone's book.

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