If Monsieur Periné is any proof, chanson/Hispano pop has an audience. Enter The Birkins, a Gran Canaria band that fuses French with harder riffs. No big band cumbia sound, no colorful outfits, just some straightforward ‘90s rock and whatever language they’re keen on at the moment (English and Spanish have also made appearances, although this album gets no Spanish love). Some of the straightforwardness gets tempered by psychedelic notes, but at its core, The Birkins relishes in the simple moments. They’re not experimenting, they’re just feeling, and we might be OK with that.
Their most recent album, Châteaux en Espagne, was released by Barcelona label El Genio Equivocado in February and features 12 tracks that blend this cross-cultural approach. Singers Daniel Machín and Cristina Santana’s voices blend nicely, his deep and unaffected, a dead ringer for Matt Berninger; hers light and airy, but with conviction. This is particularly true during songs like “Toute Cette Lumière,” which starts as a spoken conversation between the singers; and “Confessional Drinker,” when their voices meet in the end after Daniel breathily trembles through a particularly nice set of lyrics (“Where did those fireworks come from? / They shine, and I’m moving on”). Santana’s voice gets a chance to belt during the band’s roughest song (stylistically, not technically), “Tell me what you want.” But their nicest achievement in the whole album is in fact “Toute Cette Lumière,” a song that feels cohesive from start to finish, when the strings sore and Santana’s melodies are allowed room to breathe.
Again, this band isn’t revolutionizing anything. Some of the music lacks energy and vision and the overall proposal sounds a little too familiar. But, there are some single beautiful moments in this album that are definitely worth a listen or three.
Download “Toute Cette Lumière” below and listen/purchase Châteaux en Espagne here.