How does Tijuana do it? Is there something in the water? For years, connoisseurs and fans have wondered about the magic ingredient behind the border city’s startling treasure trove of boundary-pushing musicians. From ruidosón to garage and shoegaze, Tijuana has birthed some of Mexico’s finest indie musicians. Today, Vaya Futuro – once the black sheep of the scene – have blessed us with their most eclectic and polished record to date.
Tips Para Ir de Viaje is all over the place, but instead of projecting disarray, this latest effort from Vaya Futuro feels like the Tijuana quintet is drawing with every color in the musical crayon box. Gone is the distorted gloom of Ideas a Medias and Perro Verde y Triste – somber shoegaze sounds purists may find themselves missing – as the band’s third full-length album brims with unbridled exuberance. Tips is decidedly cheerier, almost pop, with Vaya Futuro embracing cleaner and more straightforward indie rock arrangements.
It’s no secret Vaya Futuro had a rough couple of years as outcasts within their home scene, embarking on several chaotic tours and relocating to a lonely and cramped life in Mexico City. But as their star has risen – note their buzzy signing to iconic Chilean label Quemasucabeza – so have their spirits. Tips Para Ir de Viaje opens with their two latest singles, the title track and “Sueco en África,” prime examples of the band’s smoother, more radio-friendly sound. But don’t cry “sellout” just yet; there is plenty of experimental playfulness left in Vaya Futuro.
“Despacio” is a disarmingly charming country ballad – no doubt a product of the band’s Austin studio time with producer Justin Douglas – complete with theremin, piano, and Luis Aguilar’s soaring love-soaked vocals. Aguilar’s singing again takes an unexpected turn on the stunning and raw “Las Muertas,” where the usually spirited frontman channels the gaunt tone of a weathered flamenco singer.
Vaya Futuro hasn’t completely shed its sonic roots, however, with plenty of songs on Tips sure to delight open-minded fans. “Mr. Mapooch” is a noisy, lightning-fast rollercoaster swan dive, while “Sol en la frente” puts the band in familiar fuzzbox territory. “6 AM” is the closest to their original meandering shoegaze sound, yet it still feels just as bright as the rest of the album, fading into a heartwarming sunset of chants and euphoric guitars.
Perhaps the most startling, if beautiful, indicator of Vaya Futuro’s evolution comes in the song “+&+,” a cosmic existential rumination with flairs of psych and jazz. The track is an unconventional cocktail of delicate experimentation that exemplifies the buoyant spirit of Tips Para Ir de Viaje and effectively marks the band’s triumphant emergence from the shadows.
Vaya Futuro’s Tips Para Ir de Viaje is out now on Quemasucabeza.