Monday, March 30, 2020

Demitasse, Perfect Life, 2020

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

What would you call a musical side project that's more active than the main unit?

You might call it Demitasse.

Demitasse are Joe Reyes and Erik Sanden who are also the driving force behind the San Antonio, TX, rock and roll band Buttercup. Demitasse have released three albums since 2014 and Buttercup's terrific 2017 album Battle of Flowers was the band's first in eight years.

These differences aside, there are some things -- especially how Reyes and Sanden make their albums -- that are similar. All of the parts on Battle of Flowers were performed and recorded live. The new Demitasse album Perfect Life uses early live takes, few overdubs, and tight vocal harmonies.

Perfect Life has a lovely, loose vibe with acoustic guitars being the primary instrument and hushed vocals from Reyes and Sanden. Many of the songs, despite the album's title, are about breakups or relationships that never happen which, for some people, could make for a less than perfect life.

For example, the opening track "Flamenco" is less about a Spanish dancer than thoughts of a departing lover (who may in fact be nicknamed Flamenco): "You and I / were good in our time" and it's suggested that she "Dance your way through the hurt." There are moments in the song that are reminiscent of McCartney's "Junk," and there's a paraphrase of a Leonard Cohen lyric from "Ring The Bells:" "The crack in the cup / Lets the dim light through."

"Always Good" is one of the songs on Perfect Life that has wonderful melodies and less-than-hopeful lyrics. This song shuts out the world to deal with a problem and could be a prelude to Lennon's "I'm Only Sleeping." "I just crawled back to bed today / My girl has my heart / But she's gone for good." It's a small thing, but I really like that they didn't use the rhyme "back to bed today" and "she's gone away." It would have been too easy, and it reinforces the idea that even a perfect life is never easy.

"Coming Out Wrong Again" is another stellar tune with lyrics that ask why someone showed up in a life but wasn't going to be part of it: "Why'd you have to cross my path / How'd you know I would react?" "You don't know I exist" hits like a punch to the gut.

"I Found You" is one of the few songs on the album that has more of a band feel and shows that there is hope on the other side of heartbreak. When you're in love, you see that person in everyone you come across: "I met a boy / He looks like you / I couldn't avoid his eyes" and "I met a girl / Her voice sounds just like yours / I love that she turns it down / All the way down." Later in the song: "I met a boy / I met a girl / I found you."

Perfect Life is out now on Bedlamb Records.

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