If ever you wanted a case study for how the internet has changed how we discover cult bands in 2020, Spanish Love Songs could well be it.
Had they emerged 20 years ago they’d have forever been a kind of secret, underground band with a silly name that your pals in the know would extol at every opportunity. But you’d rarely get to hear them yourself unless you were willing to pay £25 for an import version of their records at HMV.
Not now, though. With the cocktail of a few influential podcasters bigging them up, the ability to stream all music at any time and a world so devoid of hope that we’re all craving uplifting, heartfelt, rousing pieces of storytelling, the stage is set for Spanish Love Songs to cut through.
Which is great because, on this album, cutting through is exactly what they deserve to do.
Their last record, Schmaltz, was great. It lived firmly in that part of the scene topped by The Menzingers, struck a chord with emo fans everywhere and neatly filled a gap left by Modern Baseball.
This new record is even better. More clattering guitars, more lyrics that deserve to be tattoos, and a heck of a lot more heart.
On first listen, you can breeze through Brave Faces Everyone without a care; the pounding drums, emotive vocals, and quite perfect bass tone are plenty satisfying. But scratch the surface and this one really gets you in the feels and does a fine job of summing up modern life.
From the self-deprecation in ‘Routine Pain’ and the cynicism of ‘Self-Destruction (As A Sensible Career Choice)’, to the general doom and gloom of ‘Beachfront Property’ and the title track, when you really listen this record is peak 2020: pessimistic, dour, and really fucking depressing.
And yet – and yet – it’s marvellously uplifting too. Lead single ‘Kick’ leaves you feeling okay for just being whatever it is you want to be, while the appropriately titled ‘Optimism (As A Radical Life Choice)’ is surprisingly hopeful.
That’s exactly why this record will push Spanish Love Songs out of the cult leagues and into the consciousness of more than just the underground emo warriors out there. It thrusts a beer in your hand, puts its arm around your shoulders, and forces you to scream along with it.
Regardless of what these songs are talking about their sweat-drenched, vein-popping delivery makes you feel something. More often than not that feeling is to sing along at the top of your voice, to feel like maybe things aren’t quite as bad as you think.
Obviously, things mostly are as bad as you thought, but Braves Faces Everyone is a lovely soundtrack for agonisingly slow apocalypse, and a rousing – if sadly temporary – distraction from this shitshow.
This record is made to be cranked loud and sung with gusto and a raised middle finger. It has weight, it has soul, and it is much needed.
Brave Faces Everyone is out now on Pure Noise Records.