The first I’d heard of Aias, it was the usual “Hey, it’s a girl band! Best Coast! Vivian Girls!” While this is all true, no one ever mentioned that it’s in Catalan. Which, for some reason, strikes me as of some importance. Maybe it’s just that it proves how big the girl-group, sincerity surf-pop bandwagon has gotten. I don’t speak Catalan, so I can’t exactly say if the lyrics line up thematically with the other bands’ output, but I’d be surprised if there was a huge difference. But the fact is, the musical language through which their language is filtered is so universal and so popular that it isn’t difficult to get that same buzz off of A La Piscina as you did from Crazy For You, for better and for worse. It’s not going to redefine the genre, it’s not going to step out of it. Instead, it’s just another disc to pick and choose from for your female-fronted surf pop mix CD you’ve got planned to help get through the winter.
From the get-go, the album proves to be a spoonful of sugar, but without any medicine to force down afterward. “Tu Manes” folds outwards easily, simply, a fuzzy guitar hovering like a cloud, as synths, thumping bass drum and vocals rush forward as if through a glittering city-scape. Guitarist Gaia Bihr, drummer Laia Aubia, and bassist Miriam Garcia all contribute vocal touches to the music, making things that much syrupier. That fuzz that dominates so much garage pop of late here is a textural element rather than a necessity, an interesting change of pace. “Quan Tornis DemÃ ” follows, a little more pop, a little less free-flowing. The tune is catchy, saccharine, just plain nice. It all falls out sweetly, the fuzzy guitar only showing itself as a note that holds a little after the sweet stuff fades.
“Món Inventat” takes the 60’s girl group style a step further than the rest of the pack, adding a slim horn section to the schoolyard singalong and hollow tom hits. It’s pretty Spector-y, but totally endearing. The melody can get a bit much on repetition, though, like a brain freeze from consuming too much too quickly. That hits even worse on “Bali”, which follows at a glacial pace, the harmonies overpowering everything in sight. Next, “Una Setmana Sencera” cribs The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” with a wink and a nod, before returning to the saccharine overload. It’s a bit out of place, to say the least, but I guess there are punk roots somewhere here in the mix. The horns return for the title track, which features what I’m assuming to be a wordless chorus of “pa” sounds. The hook is sublime, the song straightforward and delightful.
Later, “La Truita” thrums with energy and “Dues Pedres” swings its chord changes and horn sections like a sixties pop heartbreak centerpiece. There are a bunch of two, two and a half minute long gems on here, stuff that’ll latch on and find a strong audience. It’s fun, as simple as that sounds. Some people might not have the stomach for all of this ear candy, but it’s a must for fans of those female-fronted garage/surf rock bands mentioned before.