Meet B. Jacques Express, the Puerto Rican Band Slaying Glam Rock with Satire

Photo by Mariángel Gonzáles

Née: Bandleader Enrique Olivares, Thrash Bazura on drums, guitarist Dangerlove, Jo “Baby Jo-Jo” Séance on bass (and Fu Man Chocha in the live setting). Vocal back-up courtesy of the B. Jacquettes: Clippy, Suci, and Becci.
Raíces: San Juan, PR.
Sounds like: Glam-rock with a sense of irony.
You should listen to B. Jacques Express because…they’re launching a rock ‘n’ roll satire of epic proportions.

A cosmic brand of hooky glam rock camp, B. Jacques Express purportedly hails from the planet Cisgendera 6, where the troupe conspired to colonize a disenfranchised island, to convert them into loyal worshippers of what ringleader Enrique Olivares calls the “gospel of baby-life.” Wait, what?

It’s a whopper of a concept – the project’s carefully considered meaning has real implications, but materializes quite comically. Like The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, the content serves as comment on the enduring pitfalls of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s where “baby-life” comes in.

On B. Jacques Express’ double-single debut, the infantilization of the genre is the primary target. “I’m a baby,” Olivares sings on “Baby Love,” and the B. Jacquettes cry “wah-wah”— a lot. The mostly Spanish-language “Baby Love Baby Hate” culls from juvenile whines in lamenting a love that maybe never was, but the reasons for confusion are pretty, um, adult. (They’re talking about cocaine, you guys.) The overabundance of baby references at this point had already driven it home, but just in case, B. Jacques plows through, with Olivares repeating “the baby, the baby, the baby” at the end like a crashed car with wheels still spinning.

The two tracks were recorded and produced by Mario Negrón González of Fantasmes at the Casa Fantasmes studio; Olivares worked alongside him. Both musicians are also members of Los Manglers, the bubblegum garage-psych group fronted by Laira Díaz Reyes, who happens to be one of the B. Jacquettes. Despite all that crossover, B. Jacques Express is nothing like anything they’ve collectively or individually created before. It’s nothing like the rest of the San Juan underground rock ‘n’ roll scene, either.

“The sound is what happens when the New York Dolls and Menudo meet the Theater of Cruelty,” Olivares explains, his literary obsessions showing. He’s an English professor at the University of Río Piedras, something that clearly took the reins in his methodical formulation of the overall concept.

The whole thing inarguably wacky, but for its purpose, it works. Totally overdoing it is makes conspicuous the group’s criticism of one of popular music’s weirdest, grossest problems. Calling any adult a baby as a term of endearment is inherently creepy, and B. Jacques Express forces you to think about that while you’re shimmying along. It’s an odd, surreal feeling, one we’ll continue to ponder in hopes of resolution before B. Jacques Express inevitably dispatches additional complicated, unsettling commentary.