No Podemos Ser Amigos

Ahhh, Spain. Who doesn't love Spain? Aside from the whole ETA terrorist thing going on up in the North, Spain is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated countries there is. Populated mainly by supermodels and warm-hearted grandmothers, Spain is the country that encourages the taking of naps -- siestas! -- in the middle of the work day, as well as the eating of large quantities of those wonderful things called tapas. Basically it's as close to paradise as you can get without having to subsist on coconut milk and grubs.

So what's Irene Tremblay, aka Aroah, so bent out of shape about? Here she is, a resident of one of the most amazing countries in the world, and she's delivered this minor-chord-riddled debut album -- No Podemos Ser Amigos -- that echoes the forlorn lamentations of Chan Marshall or Hope Sandoval. Talk about shattering a myth. You mean chicks in Spain -- especially cute ones like Tremblay -- have problems? Shit.

All kidding aside, this is a great record. Released by Acuarela Records, which is quickly becoming the Sub Pop or Touch and Go of Spain (see the band Migala), the LP is a melancholy, guitar-and-light-percussion-driven ride through Tremblay's charming dollhouse, the rooms of which house tales of stunted relationships -- the kind we fuck up because we're insecure and stupid. Tremblay is half-Spanish and half-American, but most of the songs on her album are sung in English. Anyone who's ever had their heart broken by a selfish lover will find some validation in Tremblay's guilt-ridden confessions. A favorite example is "The Biggest Idiot in the World" in which Tremblay, singing over a lilting, Juliana Hatfield-sounding chord progression, tells us, "With your arm around my shoulder/Just for fun I'd be cruel to you," before telling us later, "I hated me/I hated you/And all the stupid things we do to feel smart." Obviously it's not brain surgery, but it is true, like the shit you write in your diary.

So Tremblay is bent out of shape because she, like all of us, feels bad about the selfish ways in which we often treat one another. And for some reason it's comforting to know that some of those cute, confident girls over there in Spain are human after all.


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