It’s easy to make The Limiñanas’ brand of rock ‘n’ roll sound cool.
Plug in some amps. Make ‘em buzz. Pound out an ominous, tom-heavy drumbeat. Play one note on the bass a hundred times. Write a cool guitar lick and repeat it. Get a dude or gal to lay down diabolically droning vocals. Cultivate a psychedelic vibe, man.
So yeah…it’s pretty easy to make that concoction sound cool. It’s much harder to make it sound interesting.
The Limiñanas have the cool part down. The French duo has been pumping out buzzy psych-rock with a shadowy vibe for a decade, consistently releasing their work via ultra-hip record labels (Hozac, Trouble in Mind, and now Because Music). Their music is the aural equivalent of a shapely cloud of cigarette smoke hanging elegantly in a ray of light…with sunglasses on.
The band’s new album Shadow People has its share of that stuff. Opener “Ouverture” pairs a steady, stomping beat with a guitar line that seems to be descending stairs that go down forever. The reverbed guitars and spoken French vocals of “Le Premier Jour” blend into something like Serge Gainsbourg doing slo-mo surf-rock.
“Dimanche” follows a slightly quicker pace and features windswept, high-pitched sounds for flavor. And closing track “De La Part Des Copains” pushes The Limiñanas through a cinematic filter; its mournful horns tell a vivid story without uttering a word. (Lionel and Marie Limiñana should do film scores, if they’re not already.)
Elsewhere, the band does explore other sonic ideas, too, often through the work of guests. Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe adds a little sizzle to “Istanbul is Sleepy” with his simmering vocal, and New Order bassist Peter Hook injects “The Gift” with a sense of swing and a bit of bounce that’s nowhere else to be found on Shadow People.
On “Motorizatti Marie,” The Limiñanas showcase their punk streak and lighten the mood with some piano. “Pink Flamingos” belongs on the soundtrack to a candy-coated, English-language dream. But the band’s most successful trip comes on the title track, which soars higher anything else on the album, thanks in part to the buoyant guest vocals of French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.
There are truly transcendent moments on Shadow People, they’re just nestled in among the ones that never quite lift off. Add it all up and The Limiñanas remain a very cool band, which is a perfectly fine thing to be.