(Innovative Leisure Records, out Fri 23 Feb 2018)
Given its proximity to the Mexican border and the fact that 96% of the nearest town are of Hispanic or Latin descent, it’s quite a surprise that Latin artists have historically been heavily underrepresented at Coachella music festival. It’s even more surprising that 21-year-old duo Mint Field locked down a slot at the iconic event in 2017 without even having released an LP. In February of this year, the Tijuana-based pair rectify that wrong with the release of debut album Pasar de las Luces on Innovative Leisure Records.
Comprised of Estrella Sánchez and Amor Amezcua, Mint Field harness a wide-reaching breadth of influences in their debut offering, from dreampop to krautrock and a whole lot in between. Accordingly, the band’s sound betrays an experience beyond their tender years, while the fragility and fleeting nature of their rhythms cling to the innocence of that youth. Although there are a number of styles clamouring for attention here, it’s the unfocused but unshakable fugue of shoegaze that is most identifiable and conjures up images of the impenetrable depths of space rolling along at a plodding but persistent pace. Hell, even the girls’ given names (Love and Star in English) reinforce the idea.
It’s the sort of sound you can easily lose track of time in, lose yourself in. Individual songs melt together and induce a feeling of weightlessness and unperturbed torpor which many bands of the genre strive for, but few achieve. On the other hand, this uniformity does betray a lack of diversity which undermines the progressive ambitions of the record. For example, almost all the tracks feature a near-identical drum roll played at varyingly ponderous paces, heightening relaxation but dampening intrigue. On the few occasions that the duo do break away from this (the standout Quiero Otoño de Nuevo which recalls later electronic work by Jane Weaver or the back-to-back brace Para Gali and Club de Chicas which inject some urgency into proceedings right at the death), our eardrums are pricked and attention piqued, only for it to sink back into sedation with the next dirge.
That being said, Pasar de las Luces is a respectable debut effort which does tap into the tranquil appeal of the shoegaze, dreampop and krautrock genres. Mint Field’s ability to hit the right notes might set them apart from others within the same sphere, but their proclivity to hit the same notes over and over again prevent them from fully taking flight among the wider music scene.