This is a review of an album release. An interview with the band is forthcoming.
Barcelona is one of many European cities that have fallen under the spell of the “Press Play” culture, a movement that makes it more and more difficult for live musicians and bands to find a place in the market. Beyond festivals like Primavera Sound and other smaller concert events, the Mediterranean city doesn’t have much to offer for the live music crowd. It’s impressive, then, when you find talent such as the group Unicorn, an international powerhouse based in Barcelona and probably one of the best new acts around.
Unicorn is a strange and tantalizing band, with a sound all their own and a passion for music and production that far outmatches anything I’ve seen in the city so far. Not only that, but they are extremely hardworking, really putting in the time to produce solid, original tunes, with the hopes of playing shows in Barcelona and abroad.
Their E.P., an elegantly put together digital release, is available now on Bandcamp for free, but they can also be purchased and listened to offline. At around five euro, this E.P. is well worth it. It’s called Nemesis, which is quite the excellent choice, and works well with the fantastical and equally brutal, simple band name. All five songs live up to the adorable brutality of the Nemesis concept, and give the listener the chance to headbang or relax in the atmosphere, sometimes all at once.
Out of the five tunes, the best has to be “Who are you?” an epic mix of post-rock and electronic music with thunderous background guitars, a Tron-esque keyboard part, and captivating vocals. Like any good rock tune, it builds and builds, but still has a subtle discoteca flare. This one in particular will translate really well when the band plays live.
The other tune that really stands out is “Time,” a pop rock ballad that evolves into realms totally unexpected for this kind of songwriting. The chorus in particular is eerily operatic; the first verse leading to it is a total hook. As well, it showcases the vocalist’s odd and endearing range. Her voice is cute, dark, and totally different, all in the best way possible.
Other songs include “What are you waiting for?” a piano driven piece that begins like the equivalent of a keyboard getting blasted into space. The vocals here are deeper, the music darker and more atmospheric. Also, the tune “Daniel Johnston” is one hell of a pop rock song, similarly ballad-based like “Time” but a bit more on the chilled out side.
Finally, the E.P. ends in the super enjoyable, ecstatic and erratic, and super catchy “Don’t Speak.” The instruments here echo the best of the 90s, the vocalist having the most fun possible on every lyric of this wildly danceable track. If it sounds familiar, too, that only means that you saw the Barcelona indie film Don’t Speak, a horror flick that featured “Don’t Speak” on the soundtrack. The perfect, high-powered ending to a surreal album filled with more musical and vocal twists than most E.P.s out nowadays.
I had a chance to chat with members of the band about Nemesis, and you’ll have a chance to enjoy their words soon enough. But for now, head to bandcamp.com to enjoy their tunes.