Papas Fritas-s/t

August 27, 2008

Papas Fritas

s/t (Minty Fresh 1995)

Sometimes it seems as if hyperbole is the magical word of the day here at magicistragic, but here is yet another album deserving of all my favorite adjectives and stroking maneuvers. I keep singling out 90s indie-rock albums, but those were my formative years, so I really cannot help myself at times. However, this is one of those albums that I saved for a later date so I didn’t post everything i love in three days and blow the proverbial load. However, the evenings are long and sobriety wears thin, so let us take take a half-assed stab at Papa Fritas’ debut album.

There is something to be said about bands that possess two members able to harmonize perfectly. By no means am I making a direct comparison to Exene Cervenka and John Doe or the Everly Brothers, but there is something magical about two voices complementing each other. Now, Tony Goddess and Shivika Asthana’s harmonies are very imperfect and rough around the edges, but they do work that same magic, albeit in a more humble fashion. It isn’t elegant like bernaise sauce and steak, but more like the simple, but harmonious interplay of salami, provolone and a crusty roll.

On the surface, their debut is just a smart, catchy indie-pop album, but it subtly draws from 70s and 80s rock bands like the Modern Lovers and NRBQ. It is a joyous, kind of sloppy album that relies on the power of a simple hook. They sound so damn excited to record an album and their enthusiasm is catchy and propels some of its lesser tunes into a higher stratosphere. It’s a twee punk album that isn’t afraid to pluck ideas from its idols and you get the sense that the musicians had a lovely time bringing this to fruition. Yes, many bands have fun recording an album, but Papas Fritas is so bushy-tailed and bright eyed that you buy into songs that you normally wouldn’t.

Now, this album didn’t worm its way into my heart on sheer enthusiasm, there is much more at work here. Their debut has its weaknesses, but half of this remains in steady rotation thirteen years later. It always reminds me of the power of harmony and the satisfaction that can be derived from a seemingly simple pop song. There isn’t anything fancy or innovative about it. They just wrote excellent songs and their voices happened to congeal in a wonderful way. I always come back to this one and hope you do too.