Borja Flames – Nuevo Medievo

4 out of 5

Label: Murailles Music

Produced by: Borja Flames

The hauntingly beautiful and disturbing pop of Borja Flames, which seems like a good representation of the generally beautiful and weird pop on parent label Le Seure, here co-released by the often experimental and weird label Murailles Music. But you see throughlines there, and boil that down to harmonies, squiggly electro beats, drone-like repetition, and NiN-like industrial undertones… and then we’re back at Borja’s Nuevo Medievo, 10 tracks that are never far away from the catchiest of melodies, or a gorgeously bouncy synth line that’s then brought intriguingly low by a counter synth, or some cutting percussion.

Borja (with assistance by Marion Cousin, Paul Loiseau and Rachel Langlais) keeps the music swirling around a central, pleasant hum, his voice and tones very mid-ranged and metered, but then bumps tracks here and there with ba-ba-ba vocalizations that scale up around a chorus, or that paced, central vibe pushed more toward the faster or slower ticks of a metronome. It is mesmerizing, and whenever you’re ready to just sink into it, there’s enough of a swerve to give it some oomph, and bring that anxious undercurrent back into the foreground.

But all of this is, ultimately, a limited cache of tricks, and after catchy chorus number whatever – for me, it’s after track 8’s Sin Cabeza – some of the songs start to blend together. That doesn’t change their catchiness (or the ability to suddenly surprise, such as on De qué’s late changeups), but nonetheless, the template is much more apparent.

For non-French speaking me, this easily reaches across the language divide, communicating feels through sound and presentation, Borja crafting instantly memorable squiggles of sound that you can sing along with, regardless of your spoken language.