No Mas Bodas: Mas, Por Favor

As a grad student at the venerable University of Texas, I can finally say that summer has arrived. Though temperatures here in Austin have already flirted with the triple digits, I was too immersed in research papers to appreciate or take advantage of it. Now, though, that papers are handed in and classes are over, I can taste the sweet freedom that summer contains. All I want to do is listen to big, dumb dance songs that celebrate celebrating. Unfortunately, I am instead listening to No Mas Bodas.

No Mas Bodas isn’t the kind of thing you put on to pump yourself up for a night on the town. Instead, this female foursome makes music that challenges you, and pushes you with atonal melodies and dissonant chords. It’s music that makes you sit up and pay attention, and use that brain that I’m so desperately trying to leave behind at the moment.

In March, NMB released the Flesh EP, a brief but rich follow-up to their 2010 album Erotic Stories from the Space Capsule. The EP is filled with some of the most interesting, haunting post-punk-influenced songs you’re likely to hear at the moment. The drum track is produced from synths and samplers, while the traditional guitar/bass are joined by a cello and a saxophone, among many other sounds. It’s not just the combination of instruments that lends the originality to NMB’s sound; they juxtapose stilted rhythms with flowing melodies, flirting with accessibility but always pushing the envelope.

No Mas Bodas - Quicksand

Lead track “Quicksand” recalls the post-punkers of yore, with more than a smidgen of early Devo present in the synth/guitar interplay. “Flesh” recalls early Nine Inch Nails redone in a trip-hop haze, with lead singer Kristina Boswell doing her best Beth Gibbons (Portishead) impression. (Boswell has a powerful voice that fits nicely alongside contemporary indie women like the singers in EMA, Glasser and Phantogram.) “Carousel” is like a mash-up of the best of Caribou’s 2010 album Swim. “Jungle” mesmerizes with an insistent beat and the repeated, nearly chanted, chorus, “Take me to the jungle / I am an animal.” And closing track “Ocean” is about as close as the group gets to a traditional ballad. This may sound like a jumble of different sounds and influences, but somehow it all works.

Flesh is an exciting, fascinating album that you can download here along with their full-length debut. And you can check them out live tonight if you’re in Austin at Emo’s.