Barcelona has begun creeping up in its own right as a center for new talent lately. While I’ve dug in on the garage side mostly, there are certainly endless eddies of pop that run through the town, making noise that’s worthy of radar space. Barcelona-bred musician Virgili Jubero has been working under the Màquina Total name since 2011, but it wasn’t until he came into contact with local label Domestica Records that he wandered into my view. Working in a vein of synth pop that flirts with coldwave and winks at darkwave, Jubero has a feel for synths that are buried just under the horizon line of pop. That’s not to say that there isn’t something captivating or even catchy about the work on Estàtua, but he’s found a way into emotional ’80s soundtrack territory that consumes smudged eyeliner and rain like it was vital sustenance.
This album, which arrives as Màquina Total’s debut long player proper, collects some older tracks and new recordings to bring forth the freshest version of the band to date. The label is not entirely off base when name checking Human League or Spandau Ballet, but shave off a layer of sheen, spin the low end wide open and let the whole thing underscore a lost John Hughes cut of teenage longing and you’re starting to get close to the nerve here. I think perhaps it’s Jubero’s reserve that stands out the most on the album. Where he could easily have spent time fleshing out these tracks into stacked slices of synthpop that wander into the waters of a poor man’s offering of long gone ’80s hits, instead he lets the ghosts of the FM dial haunt his tracks like a taste on the tongue that’s hard to place. What’s left is breath on the air and a warm buzz that hits between the eardrums and the hairs on the back of your neck.
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