For their first three albums, Chilean duo Dënver found their signature sound through a particular mix between pop, indie rock, and a healthy dose of elements from past decades, especially from the 70s. This sound reached its peak on the latest of those three, Fuera de Campo (2013, Feria Music). Produced by the band’s own Milton Mahan, Fuera de Campo showcased the band’s pop grandiosity in all of its splendor, through their refined songwriting skills and rich arrangements that used strings and brass to embellish the songs in a beautiful way.
Now listen to the first few minutes of their brand new fourth album, Sangre Cita, and you’ll notice right away that something has changed. Album opener and first single “Noche Profunda” is as dark as its name suggests, with a strong sexual tension generated by Mariana Montenegro and Mahan’s vocals interacting with each other and with the deep beat and fat synths. There isn’t a violin or a horn to be found, not even a guitar; on the contrary, it’s all electronic-based, and yet they manage to sound like the Dënver we know and love.
But they also do a great job of wearing other people’s hats, specifically on “Mai Lov.” Basically, it’s a “What’s this Kyary Pamyu Pamyu song doing here?” situation. The bubblegum-sweet track and its upbeat rhythm will creep into your body. By now we’re sure that Dënver’s goal wasn’t to stay in their safe zone at all. This is their time to experiment, even at the risk of sacrificing consistency, something that was one of Fuera de Campo‘s strongest features. One of the tracks that’s closer to the sound of their previous work is “Bola Disco,” which is built around disco references and features Mahan’s boyish vocals and funky guitar work.
They jump from the 70s to the 80s when “La Última Canción” kicks in. It’s a ballad that sounds like something Berlin would’ve done back in the old days, complete with lush string synths, reverbed snare hits, and plucked electric bass strings. The lyrics are sexy and in-your-face, with Montenegro singing “me pides que me desvista por primera vez en la vida/me ves toda jovencita/y me invitas a que siga,” right before dropping into a spoken-word bit where she invites her lover to spend a night he’ll remember with her. But she doesn’t get more brutally honest than on “Pequeños momentos de satisfacción.” The song begins with the line “después de masturbarme me da por llorar/me da por rezar y por volver a empezar,” something that sounds like it comes from a Xiu Xiu record instead of a Dënver one, backed only by scarce piano chords and hushed vocals that feel both uncomfortable and curious.
The most rocking moment comes on “El Infierno,” and it’s actually as playful as it is distorted, narrating a Bonnie and Clyde-like fantasy story. The last three tracks on the album feature stellar contributions from guest artists, all from Chile. On “La Lava” we find Playa Gótica’s Fanny Leona sharing vocal duties with both band members, delivering a borderline kitschy slow jam that channels Iberoamerican 80s radio vibes. On “Los Vampiros,” it’s (Me Llamo) Sebastián‘s turn, and they jump right in into 90s Europop waters with no shame whatsoever. The album ends with “Sangrecita,” a schizophrenic track that jumps from spooky verses to a tropical bridge and then to an anthemic chorus featuring Pedro Piedra.
Once again, one thing Sangre Cita suffers from is a lack of coherence, but you can blame that on the band’s restless search for something new, and that can’t be a bad thing. Dënver is thinking outside of the box and surprising us with the unexpected.
Grab Sangre Cita for limited time here and be sure to watch our recent episode of Hangin’, featuring the delectable duo themselves: