Migala – Arde


The Spanish band Migala’s third album, Arde (It Burns in Spanish), is a work of brilliant quiet and contemplative rock. Ranking along the best of bands like Smog, Songs: Ohia, and Drunk, Migala plays a style of music that is very precise and folk-influenced while featuring an even greater range of instrumentation than the above musicians. In addition to soft, folk-style guitar, the band uses piano, strings, accordion, and even vocal samples and tracks to add a unique flare to these songs.
What’s interesting here is that Arde is split into Spanish and English songs. Many of the tracks titled in Spanish are instrumentals, like the almost post-rock “Primera Parada,” which, with its crashing drums and acoustic guitar, for some reason evokes images of the sea, and “El Caballo del Malo,” which uses traditional country structures and keyboards for a spaghetti western feel with washes of keyboard noise. “La Noche” is moody and yet intense, while “Cuatro Estaciones” is louder and more filled-out, almost like a Godspeed You Black Emperor! track.
Most of the vocal tracks are in English, with the vocals carrying an appealing yet not distracting Spanish accent. “Fortune’s Show of Our Last” uses piano and has deep, resonating vocals for a Smog-like feel, and “Times of Disaster” is even quieter, with soft cello and odd vocal samples that add atmosphere to the track. “La Espera” has something of a slow-core feel, with stark guitar and vocals and background strings. “Suburbian Empty Movie Theatre” is more up-beat and slightly poppy, with a lighter rhythm and backing vocals now and then to flesh out the sound. The Spanish accent to the vocals adds a nice flair to the soft “The Guilt,” and “Last Fool Around” goes back to the quieter, more sparse sound.
This album is full of intense and atmospheric tracks that hint at a alt-country or folk nature but stay more rooted in the quieter, softer side of indie rock. To put Migala along Will Oldham and Songs: Ohia, says a lot, but in many cases, Migala’s songs are even better than those standbys. They’re lush and full and quite lovely. This is a fantastic album that deserves much more attention in the states.