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If La Ley can be described as Latin America’s answer to Duran Duran, don’t think this Chilean band does nothing but “Girls on Film” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” covers.
Instead, La Ley takes after Duran Duran’s Liberty and The Wedding Album era. Guitarist Pedro Frugone even cites Duran Duran guitarist Warren Cuccurullo as an influence.
The opening track of Uno has a perfectly telling moment. Right before singer Beto Cuevas tears into the soaring chorus of “Eternidad,” there’s a bass solo that sounds like it came straight from John Taylor’s fingers himself.
But that’s not the only influence informing La Ley’s music.
For Uno, the band ditched most of the synthesizers from 1998’s Vertigo that made them sound somewhere between Depeche Mode and Erasure. Now relying more on acoustic and electric guitars, La Ley sounds like the Cure would if Robert Smith took Prozac, and Maná’s Fher cited the Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen as songwriting influences.
(One track, “Delirando,” could have come off of a L’Arc~en~Ciel album.)
Without all the keyboard effects, La Ley’s songwriting comes into sharper focus, and while there are a few moments that would make either Nick Rhodes or Neil Tennant proud, Uno is mostly Frugone’s showcase.
Fans of La Ley’s more synthetic sound may actually be shocked by the change, but hang in there — Uno features a set of tunes worth listening to over and over again. The Grammy-nominated “Aquí” is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg — other quick favorites include the dramatic “Fuera de Mí”, the driving “Paraíso”, the twangy “Verano Especial” and the showstopping closer “Al Final.”
As bands are wont to do nowadays, La Ley tacked a hidden bonus track after “Al Final” with Cuevas singing in English. The song serves as subtle warning — this band has a singer that can allow La Ley to take on North America if they so wanted.
And it should.