Five albums in, Mexican duo Lorelle Meets The Obsolete are making a fresh start. Shifting their initial recording focus from guitars to keyboards and drums, the core members – Lorelle (Lorena Quintanella) and The Obsolete (Alberto González) – have been joined in the studio for the first time by their touring band.
Bolstered to five, they build on the considerable strengths of 2016’s Balance album while broadening their sonic palette, keeping the trademark psychedelic excursions but complementing them with spacey keyboards, bass-driven grooves and percussive thrust.
Something is up right from the start, the steady but ominous thump of the bass drum taking hold on Ana. It grips the listener between the ears, even while Lorelle’s ghostly vocals drift eerily across the stereo picture. These dark yet curiously majestic pictures, slowly painted here, are countered by the much brighter lights of Líneas En Hojas, with a groove twice the speed and a powerful, affirmative chorus. The harmonies reek beautifully of Cocteau Twins before the bass groove takes hold once more.
While most of the tracks on De Facto weigh in at around three-and-a-half minutes, there are two lengthy exceptions. The mighty Unificado, situated at the album’s heart, starts as a ruminative meditation but pans out into a psychedelic groove with a lumbering beat that carries all before it. The music never outstays its welcome, despite its improvisatory form, and the sonic impact of the guitars is dazzling. The closing La Maga is even longer but equally hypnotic, casting its spell with shimmering chords and an ambiguous rhythm track.
The shorter tracks retain a poised and elegant profile, especially in the case of Inundación, whose slow trajectory and soft vocals feel more certain with every listen. Ironically a more expansive approach to form would have been welcome here, as the track feels like it has more legs, so effective are the subtle progressions of the chorus.
Quintanella’s vocals are both otherworldly and reassuring, captured from a distance but still an intense point of reference. They are the ideal match for The Obsolete’s guitars, circling with countermelodies that can be lengthy but never outstay their welcome. The listener can therefore dive into the detail of each song, or pan out to appreciate the overall framework. At times the twinkling keyboards conjure up images of the hazy nocturnal panorama of Ensenada, the Pacific coastal city on the Baja California Peninsula where the group’s studio is situated. This is best experienced in Acción – Vaciar, with one of the most flexible bass lines you’ll have heard in a long time.
De Facto takes all that was good about Lorelle Meets The Obsolete and makes it even better. The groovier undercarriage suits their sound, as do the enhanced keyboards, and the substance of their music is hugely impressive. Give this album the room it deserves, and you will dance and swoon repeatedly to what is a rather wonderful record.