The Limiñanas are one of those rare bands – a group who formed a little later in the life after pursuing careers in other fields. Their maturity and experience explains why there is a calculus, science, and literary flavor to their music. Unlike many bands who write songs in isolation of the next, The Limiñanas, which is the brainchild of husband and wife duo Lionel and Mari Limiñana, take an idea and expand upon it to create stunning concept albums, like their marvelous new album, Malamore.
Calling Malamore an album, however, might be a disservice to what The Limiñanas have put together. The album is like a piece of brilliant film-noir cinema. You may not be able to actually see what the images and you may not fully comprehend every word on the album since three-quarters of it is in French, but you can visualize exactly what is happening in this espionage-oriented drama.
The brief, moody “Athen I.A.” opens the album and introduces us to the smokey, suspenseful landscape of Malamore. It is the perfect lead-in to the beautiful but mysterious “El Beach”, where all eyes are transfixed on the album’s protagonist. This ’60s-inspired psychedelic track is mesmerizing yet chilling, incorporating Middle Eastern and Indian textures to give the song the feeling that we are a stranger in an unknown land.
“Prisunic” is in one word cool. You can see Robert Mitchum – or for younger audiences Daniel Craig – confidently walking down a sun-drenched avenue in search of his target. The slow build on the track is terrific, matching the anxiety in the air. “Garden of Love” could be the moment when the hero encounters his love interest. Again with a ’60s flair, the song is a groovy dream. There is, however, still a bit of apprehension that permeates in the track, which can be accounted for by the terrific and familiar bass line that Joy Division fans will recognize – that of Peter Hook.
The title track pays homage to some of movie’s great leading mean, like the aforementioned Robert Mitchum and Robert Duvall. It is an anthem for these “tough guys”, who dominated every scene with their presence especially during the moments where they meet the villain face-to-face and take justice into their own hands. But of course, like a great movie, the conclusion never happens so early and the villain cannot be caught so easily. “Dahlia rouge 2”, meanwhile, takes us on a journey along wind-swept coasts and stunning scenery, that moment in a film where protagonist is left contemplating his next steps and the mistakes he’s made.
If you’ve ever watched film-noir cinema, you’ll know there are always gritty, edgy moments. “The Dead Are Walking” and “Zippo” are the songs that represent these scenes. Moving away from the psychedelia that reverberates through most of the album, The Limiñanas head more towards pounding garage rock. “Zippo”, in particular, is awesome and the album’s masterpiece. The deep chords of one electric guitar, the whammying of another, the throbbing drums and bass, and Lionel’s dead-pan vocals combine to produce one head-pounding, soul-crushing number. “Malamore” may have been a song in tribute to cinema’s tough guys, but “Zippo” is their anthem, representing the moment when the hero arises from the fog victorious.
While The Limiñanas could have ended Malamore with a light, airy tune, like the penultimate track “Paradise Now”, they instead leave us with the blistering, instrumental “The train creep a-loopin”. It’s just a sonic burst of guitars, bass, and drums. It could be the song for the closing credits. However, as everything with The Limiñanas is calculated, it likely is just a cliffhanger, informing us that there is more to come from this massively underrated but brilliant rock band.
Malamore is out now via Because Music. Purchase it on Bandcamp. Supporting The Limiñanas on the album were Peter Hook, Guillaume Picard, Nika Leeflang, Sarah McCoy, Laurent Sales, Nicolas Delseny, Franck Mengin, and Pascal Comelade.
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