There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Chilean newcomers Playa Gótica and their debut album, a project they’ve been nursing carefully ever since they got a passionate co-sign from one of the biggest names in the Chilean indie pop realm: Dënver’s Milton Mahan. He not only signed them to his and bandmate Mariana Montenegro’s label Umami Discos, but he also co-produced Amigurumi, their opera prima.
The first three singles from Amigurumi –“ Reptil no gentil,” “Fuego,” and “Extraños visitantes” – were a declaration of Playa Gótica’s strengths, even if they don’t represent the eclecticism of the band’s sound. PG have a penchant for disco, reimagined through their own unique vision. The first two singles embrace the genre’s groovier textures, while “Extraños visitantes” and “Bailando” champion post-punk flourishes, giving the band a noisier, faster, and more irresistible edge.
“Pigman (Aburrida en la tienda)” is their most deliciously indie pop moment yet. Tipping her hat to the tradition of iconic UK indie label Sarah Records, singer Fanny Leona narrates the experience of a store clerk who doesn’t give in to a male customer’s advances. As the song drops into a disco break reminiscent of Dënver’s own catalog, she denounces sexual harassment without holding back. “Ya no quiero tener miedo de andar sola por ahí/Ya no secuestren/Ya me ha pasado otras veces,” she cries.
Playa Gótica aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, as evidenced by “Boy George.” The band didn’t give the song that title just for the sake of name-dropping; they actually channeled the British singer and Culture Club in the kitschy and charming pop-reggae track. And speaking of charm, “Cosita” is possibly the quirkiest song about a pet since Thundercat’s “Tron Song.”
Despite their name, the band isn’t really as goth as you might expect – but there are two tracks on Amigurumi where they dip their toes in dark waters. “La pasajera” references The Cure through the chorus-soaked guitar work. “Darkbalada” is an eerily slow track that gets denser and denser by the second, enveloping you in an unsettling sonic cloud before descending into another disco-punk party.
With Amigurumi, Playa Gótica have laid their cards on the table. Clocking in at 50 minutes, it’s a comprehensive portrait of the band’s potential – a grand opening statement that has us wondering what they’ll come up with next.
Grab the whole album as a free download here.