Whether it’s the global nature of alternative music in the age of streaming, or possibly the cultural aftershocks of the credit crunch, it feels like there’s a new, mucho cool Spanish indie band every week. In the case of Belako – a four-piece from the Basque town of Mungia – using the word “new” might be a bit of a stretch for a band who have been releasing music since a couple of online demos in 2011 – but, whilst forthcoming LP Plastic Drama may be their fourth album, it’s their first international release on a major label. The best part? The album’s lead single, ‘Truth’, finds them in as fiercely DIY a mood as ever.
Clocking in at a pacey (and satisfying balanced) two minutes and twenty-two seconds, ‘Truth’ lays its cards on the table pretty quickly; in a matter befitting its title, it launches into the slightly off-kilter, detuned guitar line and punchy, if tinny, sounding drums, which are consistent throughout. This is even more true of the track’s video, in some respects, which provides its viewer with the nine lines that form the song’s lyrical content.
Theirs is a stripped-back take on post-punk, consistent with some of the genre’s best voices, who have generally used a fairly simple adage: find a message, repeat it, make no compromises. There’s something of Dream Wife’s early stuff in vocalist Cristina Lizarraga’s atonal vocal style here, but you can take the combination of the persuasive thrust and wry observation all the way back to pioneers such as The Fall or Gang of Four.
The song’s shonky feel arguably gives the band a kinship with Hinds, perhaps the most widely-recognised Spanish group of recent times. Whilst lyrically, the “truth” being spoken here is that the concept of romance has been weaponised, ensuring that love keeps us “locked up”, enforcing our exploitation – essentially, it’s about as far from the usual pop content as you can get.
For an album that “searches for the real meaning of things in a world that translates everything into assembly lines, manufacturing and the exploitation of living beings”, ‘Truth’ appears to be the ideal introduction, ahead of its release. It’s particularly encouraging to see a band, now some time into their career, embrace their ideas and apply them not only to lyrics but also to the album’s production. If there is any truth in pop music, it looks certain to come from Belako.
Plastic Drama, the upcoming album from Belako, is out 28th August via BMG.