Mus – La Vida

La Vida

On what is possibly their last album, Mus, the Spanish duo of singer Monica Vacas and composer Fran Gayo, have opted for a brighter, dreamier sound. The plaintive melodies, hazy arrangements and syrupy sweet vocals resemble the reflective, textured indie-rock of Mazzy Star but with a more old-world folk influence.

La Vida is filled with slow, bittersweet songs whose reserved tunes sound more like indecipherable lullabies than any type of twee-rock. Ms. Vacas croons in Asturian, an old Romantic language, so the listener doesn’t have the slightest idea what the songs are about. But it’s this little bit of intrigue, along with an occasional stroke of strings, that imparts a neo-classical vibe on the proceedings. Some tracks are void of a rhythm section and let the drowsy calm of the vocals lead, while others employ bass, drums and even some sunny, poppy synths and approach the amiable indie-rock of Trembling Blue Stars. Leading the pack in this domain are the full-band sounding “Cantares de ciegu” and the glazey pop of “Una sabana al vientu”

But these vibrant tunes are too few and far between. Most of the tracks are more plodding, folksy frameworks colored in with autoharp, viola and pandeiro. Some gleaming electric guitars add a bit of hum, but even the honeyed, atmospheric vocals can’t keep this collection of lullabies from being considered underwhelming folktronica over the course of the album’s twelve tracks and fifty minutes.