“En Paralelo” is decidedly darker, with Fratti sawing and hacking at her strings like she’s Bernard Herrmann and speak-singing like she’s Trish Keenan—and what follows, the diabolical “Te evite,” grows and thickens and worries its way towards the deep dark woods Broadcast lost themselves within. Instead, we arrive in the grand “Palacio,” in which piano chords climb five stairs, again and again, only to reach an agonizing suspension of strings, feedback, horn, and silence, and then tumble back down again. It’s frustrating, fascinating, and kind of funny, too. Fratti shares a sense of drama with brainy singers like Nico, Björk, Kate Bush, and Meredith Monk, but her songs often feel smaller in scale, little blossoms instead of great fields of ground and sky.
The highlight of the album offers growth potential, though. Stretching to some seven and half minutes, “Cielo Falso” is twice the size of most of the album’s songs, and you could imagine, say, Julia Holter swelling it into a full album side. Or you could just play it on repeat, as I have, marveling at the way it cross-breeds Vince Guaraldi and Fleetwood Mac, as its amiable piano and hi-hat gradually bloom.
Gilgore skronks all over closer “Balanza,” his bold tone battling Fratti’s breathier one as she proclaims and laments, “Siento una avalancha/Que cae sobre mi” (“I feel an avalanche/That falls over me”). Vidrio is willing to risk sinking deep into ugliness, yet it manages to sidestep the swamps of self-seriousness. “Está descalibrada la balanza” (“The balance is out of calibration”), she decides, but the song never collapses. What might sound wrong on another record—a long-held note swaying in and out of tune, gasps of air moving in and out of her lungs, Tosta’s occasional fiddly filigree, Gibrán Andrade’s drums sinking in and out of pocket—on Vidrio sounds right as rain. Nature doesn’t make mistakes.