An album full of hits that celebrates the freedom of the post-dictatorship era
When I first listened to Nacha Pop’s El Momento, I thought it was middle-of-the-road cheesy 80s pop rock. To some extent I was right, however, amid our discussions of albums that have been recommended to us by the other, we have noticed the inclusion of some stock criticisms, such as “it’s just too long”, that keep popping up. We have also picked up on a phrase that is sometimes said in regards to albums that share the common trope of taking a while to adjust to before they reveal their qualities to you: “It’s a grower not a show-er.” Perhaps this is nowhere more applicable than when it comes to this Spanish pop rock album, which I like more every time I listen to it.
“This meant that they could use the rebellious, energy and spirit of the movement, whilst still appealing to a broad audience due to their propensity for writing hits rather than overtly controversial political statements. ”
Despite the middle of the road pop accusations, musically the band are perhaps most like Roxy Music, through their adept use of synthesisers and percussion to make for an uncommon whilst also a memorable sound. This is particularly audible on the tracks Lágrimas Al Suelo and Persiguiendo Sombras which could both easily camouflage into Bryan Ferry’s back catalogue were it not for the Spanish lyrics. Nevertheless, Nacha Pop’s final studio album, that they released a year before they first disbanded in 1988, is as stated before, a somewhat standard commercial pop-rock record which is very much of its era. However, after a couple of listens I started to notice a raw, almost punk-like quality to them, making my perception of their songs transform from pleasant toe-tappers to fiery ballads that you had to sing along with. Commercial meets edgy; this is exactly what the band were and explains the reason why they reached such levels of popularity in Spain.
The band formed three years after the death of Spain’s long-serving fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. During the dictatorship, the only music that was permitted in Spain was classical music or regional music that promoted Castilian nationalism, such as flamenco (rather than regional music of the Basque country). When his reign came to an end the music scene erupted in Spain, as people found that by imitating the popular ‘no holds barred’ music that was previously prohibited such as music from the British punk scene, they were sticking two fingers up at the legacy and memory of Franco who had suppressed their freedoms for many decades. This meant that Nacha Pop were able to gain popularity right at the start of the counter-cultural scene that they would soon become emblematic of: ‘La Movida Madrileña’.
Yet, amidst this growing revolutionary social movement lay two strata; one of which was the more underground scene which saw bands like Boikot and La Polla Records blatantly emulate punk bands like The Clash, whilst the other was the heavily commercialised new wave and pop scene that was dominated by bands like Hombres G and Alaska. It could be argued that the latter category was spearheaded by Nacha Pop. This meant that they could use the rebellious, energy and spirit of the movement, whilst still appealing to a broad audience due to their propensity for writing hits rather than overtly controversial political statements. Listening to El Momento, this equilibrium between catchy and edgy reminded me of one band, who although are certainly musically distinct to them, they also balanced this fine line here in the UK in much the same way as Nacha Pop did in Spain. I am of course talking about Oasis.
What makes this comparison even more fitting is the fact that the two frontmen of Nacha Pop, Nacho and Antonio Vega, were not quite the Gallagher brothers but were indeed close family. The two cousins composed different tracks on the album which complement one another perfectly. One can discern the difference between Antonio’s gentler approach in some of his songs like Desordenada Habitación as well as the most famous track on the album Lucha de Gigantes to Nacho’s harsher high-octane style on like Quien Soy? and Vistete, which is undeniably my favourite track on the album. Neither Antonio’s softer songs nor Nacho's rockier numbers are in any way boring, but perhaps an album filled with either of these would begin to be. The reality is, that despite not really enjoying this album at first, there is genuinely not a single dud on the track listing. Therefore, I suggest patience with this album if it does not reveal its glory to you at first. Stick with it and I guarantee you will be humming along to any one of Nacha Pop’s ten pop rock bangers on the album.