Buffalo Moon: Machista Review
Buffalo Moon burst onto the scene in the back half of the last decade with their infectious debut Wetsuit, an album that was sunny and fun, filled with drunken bossa nova pop with titles like “Money, Pussy, Weed,” “Iowa Needs a New Strip Club (Cat Song)” and “Beach Boy.” Their live show was as rambunctious as their record, cementing them as one of the most exciting new bands in the Twin Cities. Through their follow up 7″s and the sophomore LP Selva Surreal, the band added in different layers of sound and ventured into new sub-genres, always tied together by the magnetic (bilingual) singing of front woman Karen Freire. It took three years to release the follow up to Selva Surreal (due, in part, to issues releasing the record), and the record seems to bear the scars of time and experience. It is the most grounded and personal record from the band to date. If Wetsuit was having fun hanging out drunk on the beach, surfing and looking for that perfect hookup, Machista is in parts the hazy results of growing pains from those experiences. You’re still at the beach, and there are still some drinks, but Machista feels like the low-key fire the night after the big party, taking stock of how things have ended up.
If you weren’t listening closely, the songs feature the sort of orchestrated, strutting samba-pop that the band expanded to on Selva Surreal, but when you focus in , you’ll find the most biting lyrics the band have put to record. Sometimes the lyrics are crystal clear, like on “Summer Tears,” which starts with Freire singing “another year of heartbreak” as the song glides along over slick guitars and smooth keys, and the more rollicking, guitar driven “Never Satisfied,” which highlights a guy who “works a job to distract himself” and is “never satisfied.” The instrumentation on “Liar” is more upbeat, but the song is a broken-hearted lament to a love gone wrong, featuring both a male and female choir joining Freire as she sings “he was but a liar, and I was just a fool.” “Young & Tender” is a fuzzy, wall-of-sound track that breaks at points into a brittle, pop song highlighting a deep despair. The emphatic, mourning “Hollywood” is three and a half minutes of wistful lyrics, big melodies and searing guitar solos, while “Amor De Lejos” is a majestic moonlight ballad. It is a heavy record, one of deep emotions and swelling musical adventures, and it is a collection of songs that seem to grow new layers with each listen. It is a mature, complex record that finds a band facing the cold realities of life and making it into a great piece of art.
The things that have made Buffalo Moon so great over the years (the rich grooves, the warm melodies, Freire’s compelling vocals) are still alive and well on their third release. While Selva Surreal was a step forward in crafting more full and complex songs after their fun debut, Machista seems like the full realization in the bands maturation. It is emotionally jarring and trims off any fat musically, creating a sound that is confident and straight-forward. Machismo seems as if it was borne in turmoil, but the end results might be the best music of the bands career.
You can buy the record from their website or at their record release show this Saturday at Icehouse. The band will be joined by Frankie Teardrop and a DJ set by Tickle Torture. Music starts at 11 pm.