SPAIN: Eureka! - La Pegatina
Updated: Jan 20, 2021
La Pegatina showcase their musical talent on an album that is infectiously upbeat and fun
La Pegatina are a band based in Barcelona that combine ska with Catalan rumba, and it’s a surprisingly effective fusion of genres. Catalan rumba itself is a fusion genre, taking Spanish gitano guitar and combining it with rock and roll and Cuban music, so adding ska influences to this already flexible genre makes for a perfectly cromulent listening experience. It points to the global nature not only of the album, but of music itself, though it is built on a solid base of ska-inflected rumba. The various influences add, rather than detract, as they’re expertly included in such a way not to draw attention to itself, but also serve as a way to broaden their appeal to other countries aside from Spain.
"It is incredibly fun, accessible music that sets a mood with a European collage of sounds, by way of Jamaica."
Their music is light, happy, with a relentlessly upbeat tone. This is definitely an album where the objective of the band is to make those listening to it have fun, and to extent they are successful. It’s an album that conjures up the sights and sounds of the beautiful city where they’re from, whilst also taking inspiration from other parts of the world, and somehow making it cohere as a whole. I have never seen them perform live, but I’d imagine they’d put on a fun and energetic show, and that vibrancy is well captured on this album.
That said, there is one rather charming slow ballad called Amantes de lo ajeno, which seems to have taken inspiration from Andalusian guitar stylings, and it’s perhaps the song with the most lyrical depth. La Pegatina tend to have lyrics that are romantic and quirky, but this one has a more solid emotional ground, as it is about the end of a relationship. That said, on the whole, Eureka!, for me wasn’t an album that impressed me that much on a lyrical level, though the twisted humour of Llename de veneno, a song about a suicidal man finding relief in being with the woman he loves that he asks her to “fill [him] with poison” is a bleakly comic sentiment well couched within an otherwise up-tempo and happy sounding ska song. Another song worth mentioning is Olivia, the other slower song on the album. It’s a love song about “bailando de sol a sol” (dancing from sun to sun), and it’s imminently listenable with an earworm chorus.
There’s also influences not just from ska music and Catalonia, but also from Italy. The first song, Non è facile, meaning “it’s not easy”, is a collaboration with an Italian band named Baciamolemani, and the lyrics switch freely from Italian to Spanish and back again. It’s one of my favourites on the album as it sounds like a song by the Specials, with a very catchy chorus and an authentic ska feel. Mamma Mia, on the other hand, is actually Italian-sounding, with accordions, and a rhythm similar to the well-known Neapolitan standard Funiculì Funiculà. The combination of the Italian beat with the ska trumpets and Spanish rhythms all come together well. There’s also a short interlude called Il y A which takes inspiration from traditional French music.
However, as much as I like this album, I would be remiss not to mention that the last song on the album is one that I really hated. It is called Sweet Culito, meaning “sweet little ass”, for those not in the know. It is one of their slower songs, with a reasonably pleasant ukulele riff going all the way through it, and has such lyrics as “I wanna touch your booty, your lovely sexy booty, let me bite”. There are songs that are on the right side of risqué, but this wasn’t one of them. The singer sings in a very low voice, with bass tones, and it just sounds creepy. The song has the air of a drunken middle-aged man sexually harassing a barmaid while on holiday, and that is not a good look, nor a pleasant thing to listen to, to put it mildly. It is a strange lapse into bad taste in an otherwise good album.
But you shouldn’t let that put you off, the rest of it is incredibly fun, accessible music that sets a mood with a European collage of sounds, by way of Jamaica. It might not be something you’ll want to listen to when you’re in a pensive or melancholy mood, but as an album to put on if you want to have a good time, it’s hard to beat. Just skip the last track.