[album review] axolotes mexicanos, “:3” (2021)

Yesterday was so energetic and full of great music that when I checked the clock and saw that it was 2 a.m., I could only wish my day would never end. I began the day with the German indie rockers Readymade and visited the Hong Kong shoegazers Thud (who have an album on the way) when it struck midnight in Spain and the new Axolotes Mexicanos album dropped.

To be transparent, I had only discovered the group last week. But I did a lot of catching up, playing 2015’s Holi<3 and 2018’s Salu2 as well as the new album’s singles to prepare. And in Axolotes Mexicanos I discovered something extremely exciting: the finest blend of any two genres I could have imagined is tontipop and j-pop, something La Casa Azul excelled at in the presence of neo-shibuya-kei. On top of that, it’s the most fun pop punk I’ve heard in a long time.

The tracks leading up to the album were some of my favorites on the album itself. From the Uwu single are “Te Quiero (…)” and “Cuando_estoy_contigo.mp3”. They’re songs that talk to and answer each other, the former being about the dizzying and aggravating loneliness that accompanies a break-up and the latter being about the simultaneous anxiety and comfort of being together. “Te Quiero (…)” whips up into pop punk frenzy in its chorus, while the simple jangle pop stylings of “Cuando_estoy_contigo.mp3” are the twee-est I’ve heard the group so far.

The later single, “Cara de idiota”, has the perfect self-deprecatingly sweet lyrics as one might expect from twee, but here taking a fantastic cue from Kero Kero Bonito‘s recent work. I think it’s one of the strongest songs on the album. Perfectly catchy, a true pop song.

When approaching the album itself, it’s fun to see that there are both opening and ending tracks for the album, much like you would find in anime. “Opening” is charming with its marching drum beat and lyrical disdain for an imaginary partner. It transitions into “Cara de idiota” really well. On the other side, “De Aquí A Un Año” swells over with its fear of the future, leading into “Ending”, a track about being so desperate to see someone that you’d risk fatal injury. And even this track, much like the opening, has its share of comedy.

Their songs approach bittersweet and otherwise sad songs with a bright energy that to someone not proficient in Spanish, you’d never guess “Verano en espiral” was about idealized lives and dissatisfaction. This sort of energy comes over from the work of Elefant Records’ past and a number of other influences and infuses the lyrics with a truly youthful feeling. “Oshare kei”, named and styled after the subgenre of Visual kei, reminds me of an especially painful breakup I had, where life had to keep going but I felt so directionless.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, I really adore this album, and I’m excited for my record to come, which has this wonderful electric blue color. I encourage everyone reading not just to check out the album, but buy it either digitally or physically! Give it a year and physicals may be hard to find. 😉

For Europe (and Canada, it seems), shop from Elefant Records/Axolotes Mexicanos Bandcamp. For the United States, Darla has copies available for preorder.

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