Album Review: Bearcoon–El Guapo

These songs are the black and white polaroids you find in a basket in an antique store.  The ones that are captivating enough to grab your attention, to make you wonder, “Who has touched this before me? What happened to it that it’s here?”.  Two girls, a guitar, simple songs about real life–the kinds of songs that could be sung by anyone, the kinds of chords that could be played by anyone.  But the fact that these two beautiful human beings are the ones singing the songs, playing the chords, writing the music–it makes hearing their work something really special.

The girls are Solange Igoa and Andrea Walker.  Their album, “El Guapo“, has been a hit because it’s basically perfect.  The essential balance of simple acoustic storylines, pretty vocals, catchy melodies, and androgynous themes described in elegant words.  Andrea doesn’t just play the guitar, she makes it sing with Solange.  “El Guapo” opens up with “Cold Steel of Night”, a striking, mournful ballad exploring the loneliness lying at the end of something and awaiting the beginning of something new.  The hope in Solange’s voice is tangible as she reminds us that even when we are lonely, we are never alone.  Suddenly, the music rises up with her voice, they soar together. New voices, new instruments, new harmonies hover just beneath her lead.  “Every night has an end”.

“It’s Just You and Me” is a voice of frustration.  A friendship, tinged with jealousy, longing for exclusivity, for perfection. Solange’s voice is rough on the corners, almost jagged in some places.  “Buffalo” is  a journey.  The song is elegant and ambling, stable and optimistic.  Soft, yet lingering.  Organic.  I love “Waking Eyes”.  The gentle harmonies begin from the first chord and continue through mostly the entire song.  It perfectly captures a sweet, grey, introspective morning, mulling over past mistakes, people who are gone now.  I found this song to be the most relatable and haunting on the entire album.  It is so simple, so natural, so raw, yet beautiful.  It’s like cutting open an apple horizontally and discovering the star inside for the first time.

“Whiskey” is fun.  It dips and dives.  It conjures foot stomping and mulls through life’s various occasions for whiskey.  Catchy. Catchy. Catchy.  Gosh, check these girls out.  They’re blowing up the west coast a bit right now but if  you haven’t fallen for them yet, now is the time.

 

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