Volovan aren’t interested in being another rock en Español band.
Sure, the band plays rock music, and singer Chalo Galván sings in Español. That’s as far as the description can go.
Unlike their fellow countrymen in Molotov, Café Tacuba or Maná, the members of Monterrey, Mexico-based Volovan put nary a Latin influence in their music. They like their Brian Wilson-isms, and Brit-pop-isms straight up.
And they waste no time on their self-titled debut.
“Flor Primaveral” opens the album with a confection that could have been recorded if the Beach Boys spent any time across the border. “Ella es Azul” gets propelled by a driving rhythm and woo-hoo vocals straight out of a surf tune.
But the band isn’t all sun and fun. “En Mi Cielo” and “Violines” find Volovan employing weepy strings and wistful choruses. “Blanco” indulges their more psychedlic side.
“Panqué” and “Lindo” harken back to the Byrds much in the same way latter-IRS-era R.E.M. did, while “Me Vas Dejando” finds the band sticking close to Thurston Moore’s garage.
Through it all, the band hammers out one tasty pop treat after another.
Galván’s easy croon is cool enough not to overpower the music but can grab a listener when things get loud.
Although helmed by three different producers, the album doesn’t indulge in much studio wizardry. Sure, keyboards here and there add a nice flourish, but for the most part, the album exercises some wise restraint.
Bassist/guitarist Alejandro Gulmar deserves extra nods for giving his part some melodic muscle.
Would a little vallenato here or salsa there have enhanced anything? Most likely not. (And yeah, I know — wrong countries.)
“Lindo” is as close as Volovan, the album, gets to an overt Latin influence, but Galván and his bandmates hold on their own as pop songwriters.
If this strong debut is any indication, Volovan don’t need much more than some chords and a killer hook.