I have to admit: The first time I listened to Banda de Turistas’ Magical Radiophonic Heart, I got distracted by the eighth track. Suddenly realizing I was missing my roll of trusty double-sided tape to hang up some posters in my room, I began looking for it frantically and just left the music on in the background.
There are some albums that are matched to certain activities by critics, like when a band creates an album great for “a rainy day”, or crazy upbeat songs that are meant to be “danced to in the club”, or maybe the latest female pop sensation makes the perfect set of tracks to “roll the car windows down and sing out with your girlfriends” to.
So, as I was looking for the double-sided tape, I noticed I had begun to search more hysterically, as if driven by the music. No, I’m not saying Banda de Turistas has made the perfect “look for a missing object” angry album. By the third time I listened to Radiophonic Heart, I actually decided quite the contrary. Argentina’s Banda de Turistas has pulled off a wonderful collection of songs that are, well, happy. From the very first track, “Días de Prosperidad”, the five-man band uses their surrealist lyrics (all in Spanish) and poppy/psychedelic beats to put listeners in a damn good mood.
Favorites like “Todo Mío El Otoño”, “Nadie Sabe Bien”, and the beautiful instrumental and final track, “El Asombroso Misterio De La No Materia” are three examples of work that would make Brian Wilson mid-“Good Vibrations”-production envious. The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” also comes to mind. The band sounds as if straight from the greatly missed ’60s, quirky and refreshing with their simple yet cartoonish lyrics.
Like most albums by great bands, however, Radiophonic Heart has its faults. If listening to one after the other, some of the songs manage to blur into one giant song, lacking great range or diversity. Despite its fun sound that creates a palpably exultant mood, I wouldn’t recommend listening to the entire album in one sitting if you’re not already a fan. Apart from the first 15 spooky seconds of the eleventh track, “Sembrando El Terror”, there’s nothing remarkable about it, and “Todo Vaya Por La Cabála” seems nothing more than a filler song, used to build up to my personal favorite and final track.
Though even if imperfect, Banda de Turista’s first album serves as proof of a bright future for all of those who had given up looking for an original Latin American sound. And even if I got distracted the first time around, the beauty of Magical Radiophonic Heart is this: There is no one activity to match it to. Even if you don’t know any Spanish, this is an album you can enjoy listening to no matter what you’re doing. Hence, double-sided tape search.