Las Kellies are the two-piece Argentina group formed in 2005 featuring Cecilia Kelly on bass, guitars and vocals and Silvina Costa on drums, percussion and vocals and they are as close to a dance band as Indie gets. But not for them the half-naked, cocaine and glitter excess of Studio 54, you would need to head to the seedier part of town to find Las Kellies at the post-punk disco full of frugging Goths and Indie Kids sporting badge-covered black leather jackets and DM boots knocking back Cider and Black to wash down the cheap speed; and I’m there with them.
The opening drum pattern and bass sound of ‘Closer’ time tunnelled me right back to The Clash’s Sandinista! In fact that the whole of Suck This Tangerine has something of a sped up dub feel to it and, given this is my first introduction to their sound, I wasn’t surprised that 2011 album Kellies was produced by Dennis Bovell. ‘Closer’ also mixes what I’ve often described as gravel and honey; a softness to the voices and lilting bass lines that stand in stark contrast to the guitar’s coruscating attacks of sustained trills and jagged stabs. Often, as with a song like ‘Baby’, bass and voice occupy a dreamlike world wrapped in reverb, while the guitar elbows in with angry juxtaposition. However, the guitar also offers tuneful passages like the striking riff that runs through ‘Charade’ or the cosmic slide playing in ‘White Paradise’. Then there are songs like ‘He’s Who’s’, ‘Despite’ and ‘Weekdays’ which have the driving power of Gang of Four’s ‘Not Great Men’ or ‘To Hell With Poverty’.
Like most bands with only two or three members they have to be inventive in the interplay between so few instruments and Las Kellies are excellent at knowing when to leave space to allow voice and instrument to breathe and when to let rip with a thousand daggers of screaming fuzz. The rhythm section of bass and drums keeps a solid and ingenious pace with excellent, occasional use of bongos (something that used to populate a lot of 80s indie tracks but seemed to trail off in the pomp of the 90s) and allows the guitar to attack the senses like an unexpected static shock. This is dance-ability with sharp corners and added judder and, from listening back to their previous releases while writing this review, it seems they Las Kellies have sharpened their sound on the whetstone of experience to release an album that is really comfortable in its own indie skin and full of crunchy enjoyment.
Suck This Tangerine is out now and available from Fire Records in the UK or all purveyors of non-chart goodness.
Review by Paul F Cook