Portuguese music is going through a renaissance. A slew of musicians and performers are redefining the musical stereotypes and sound of the country.
One of these bands is Sensible Soccers. This trio manages to combine electronic elements with guitars to create something vibrant, exciting and different, whilst keeping it listenable and incredibly catchy.
The first time we crossed paths was at a festival in Lisbon, and since then we’ve been firm musical friends. On their third album ‘Aurora’ Sensible Soccers hit a sweet spot and manage to surpass their previous albums, no small feat, and deliver something that demands repeat listens without revealing all its secrets immediately.
Opening track ‘Como Quem Pinta’ opens with a broody melodic bassline and warming cascading synths. It is a gentle welcome. It says to us: “It doesn’t matter if you are a long-time fan or a first time listener; we’re going to ease you in gently...”
Suddenly some stark keyboards cut through the comforting mood. This is a reminder that Sensible Soccers aren’t just an airy, ethereal, band. Half way through a flute kicks in and takes everything up a notch. As it whispers and sways it conjures up memories of half-forgotten holidays and daytrips in the sun.
But this is the point of the album. Instead of writing about tangible stories of love, loss and redemption, Sensible Soccers have decided to write about memories, and more importantly, fragmented memories. The kind of memories where you remember the places, but everything is awash in bright white light. Family summer holidays to Spain, or school trips to France.
This gives the songs a lurid, dreamlike quality and makes repeat listens more of a soundtrack through the subconscious than a feel good party album. ‘Farra Lenta’ starts off with the same dreamy vibes, but in the final third everything gets ratcheted up as melancholy guitars and delicate synths are supplanted by throbbing basslines and hard beats, giving ‘Farra Lenta’ a Balearic sunset patio party vibe.
The holiday party mood continues with ‘Elias Katana’. Here the band embrace the party mood and just let rip. The beats start almost immediately, but this isn’t ‘aving it large in the Costa del Sol, its slight more subdued and civilised. This is what might be played through a hidden PA system on a veranda while a delicious dinner is served.
After large cocktails with immense decorations and floral arrangements are brought out before a night of club hopping, and the real carnage, begins. The album closes with ‘Telas Na Areia’. Opening with a gentle bassline that guides the listener through delicate keyboards and synths. These subtle motifs and undulating rhythms are a bookend, or act as a companion piece, to ‘Como Quem Pinta’.
The album feels like it’s gone full circle and ends where it started. With dreamy synths and woozy basslines. ‘Aurora’ is an album that demands repeat listens. It is full of luscious rhythms and exquisite melodies. As the feel good motifs bubble and swish around you, there is a surging rhythm section that keeps everything moving forward.
The band has a rare talent to make you totally get what they are feeling without saying anything. As the music is almost entirely instrumental it’s easy to get lost in its twists and turns, but the music doesn’t bog us down with overly complicated ideas and themes, instead each song is built on a firm foundation of a few clever and inventive hooks that slowly grow and mutate as it progresses until you are faced with a full on beast of neon vibes and translucent refrains.
Throughout ‘Aurora’ Sensible Soccers show immense restraint from turning everything into a full on rager and ‘Telas Na Areia’. There are times when you feel they are going to let rip, but instead they throw in another hypnotic bassline, or guitar riff. And this is why the album works so well. Just when you think you have the song sussed they change it slightly and take you somewhere unexpected.
Whether this is the first time you’ve heard of Sensible Soccers or you’ve been around since their debut, ‘Aurora’ is captivating albums that can make even the bleakest rainy days feel a little warmer and fuzzy.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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