Following the release of their 2016’s ‘Little Giants’, California’s Spanish Love Songs have returned with their third release, ‘Schmaltz’, an album title which is extremely fitting considering the confessing nature of the lyrical content throughout.
To swiftly address the elephant in the room, the sonic similarities between Spanish Love Songs and The Wonder Years are almost uncanny. From lead vocalist Dylan Slocum‘s pain drenched vocal delivery and pessimist laced lyrics in tracks like ‘Bellyache’ (“But it is what it is / And all this shit is worthless”), to the chugging power chords and bouncy, staccato riffs of ‘The Boy Considers His Haircut’, the album seems to take the already established pop-punk/emo sound at its face value, with little being done in terms of innovation.
However, ‘Schmaltz’ is not without merit. Opener ‘Nuevo’ presents a softer side to the band’s sound, taking the opening riff from following number ‘Sequels, Remakes & Adaptations’ and readapting it to a more stripped-back context, with Meredith Van Woert‘s sustained organ chords showcasing the band exploring instrumentation and song structuring, which strays away from the conventions of their genre.
‘Buffalo Buffalo’ is another highlight of the album, with lead guitarist Kyle McAulay‘s tasteful licks and emo inspired, picked, lead guitar parts in the verse complimenting the song perfectly. Slocum‘s chanted vocals definitely stand out in this track, with “Would you meet me in the middle?” exclaimed in a way that demands the audience to shout it right back.
Unfortunately, although a great deal of musical competency is showcased and the melancholic themes throughout ‘Schmaltz’ are bound to appeal to the right audience, there’s just not enough deviation from the original source material for the tracks to feel in any way refreshing.
In a heavily populated, highly competitive industry, an inability to stand out can be just as detrimental to your career as being downright bad, which ultimately is this album’s biggest downfall.
Written by Neil Dowd (@neildowd_)