The new one from Les Kellies, called Friends and Lovers, out Friday on Fire Records, is the sort of thing that is uniquely hard to describe. Writers who spin this and love it are invariably going to reach for comparisons to certain post-punk legends in descriptions of this record: The Slits, ESG, The Raincoats. What makes this album different, however, is the buoyant pep in the grooves here. I'm going to attempt a quick review of this fun record without resorting to too many of those references.
If opener "Sugar Beat" has a faint hint of Gang of Four in its central hook, "Tied to a Chain" adds a rhythm track that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an old Stereolab single even if the rest of the cut is more supple and jazzy. "I'm on Fire" -- which could be a reference to the band's new home label -- segues nicely into the more sinister "Summer Breeze" which pairs a Budgie-like drum pattern with vocal coos that aren't entirely unlike those found on a Cranes record. With the end result being entirely unlike both of those bands, you can a sense of how different this sort of music is. Les Kellies skirt the edges of punk rock with the shouty "I Don't Care" only to circle back to near-shoegaze territory with the fine "Breath of Light", all angular blurred vocals and fuzzy chords. At their best, the 3 women in Les Kellies -- Silvina Kelly, Cecilia Kelly, and Manuela Ducatenzeiler -- create memorable, woozy indie that owes as much to the legacy of The Raincoats as it might to the angular, rhythmic fury of certain Dischord bands. Friends and Lovers closes with the invigorating "Celebrate Life" which revs up the earlier bits of the record that sounded like Moonshake into a subtle fury that's closer to Luscious Jackson with more punk chops.
Friends and Lovers from Les Kellies is nearly impossible to describe adequately. Presumably, the tunes of this Argentinian 3-piece will really take off in a live setting. But that's not to deny how lively and fun this record is. Simple elements put together to produce something entirely modern, the tracks here from Les Kellies are things of some new genre, one which owes so much to the post-punk greats even as it spins off in new and fresh directions.
Out Friday via Fire Records, Friends and Lovers by Les Kellies is one of this release-heavy week's best and most pleasant surprises. Buy it now. Follow Les Kellies via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Fire Records]