Born from a town with a history of doing it for themselves, Mint Field show off their enigmatic power of shoegaze with debut album, Pasar De Las Luces. Following from their initial EP released in 2015, the Tijuana based duo have toured the US and Mexico, including slots at major festivals, before heading to the studio last year with a clearer idea of what they wanted to produce.
Pasar De Las Luces soars open with the brooding guitar led ‘El Parque Parecía No Tener Fin’, setting the standard for an album that storms in and out of different realms, all at Estrella Sanchez and Amor Amezcua’s own pace. They abolish the three minute rule in favour of longer tracks, looming with immense ambience. Tender vocals haunt each track in very much the same way, while the melodies and rhythms control the mood, whether they work together, in harmony, or play at a striking contrast. Take ‘Ojos En El Carro’ for example, which maintains ethereal vocals even through the break down into some gritty guitar work. It adds depth to the track as it thrusts us into a chaotic spiral that is nonetheless positively spiritual.
Something a little more mechanical comes with ‘Temporada De Jacarandas’; opening with an ominous beat that is simply hypnotic. Melodic guitar rises to the surface, leading further into a dream state before the beat creeps back in, adding more tension through its transition into cymbals to soften the blow, and back again. As it fades out back to the beginning, there truly is a sense of having left and entered a new world.
What stands out on this album is the strength in music; from waves of melancholy to upbeat grooves of funk, right down to the sheer grit in between. Throughout it all is pure magic, at times a little predictable, but we’re predicting the positive things here, so no biggy.
The transcendent melody of ‘Viceversa’ lifts the album into a new, higher realm; ascending into heaven and finding new life in its sparkling strings. It is at this point of the album where everything starts to appear a little lighter, at least on the surface.
But let’s talk about layers for a second…
We are treated to them from the get go, each track full of dimension, but they really come out to play in ‘Boötes Void’. This is a number that comes across very down to earth at the start, with a healthy dose of reverb thrown in, but it soars up again, quite unexpectedly, leaving us delightfully wrapped up in the music as it peels away tone after tone, ramping up the tempo and rejoicing in absolute indulgence.
As we reach the end of the album we have to admit an element of repetition in the sounds, but by some magic, we are totally okay with it. Similarities or not, Mint Field have a well established take on shoegaze that comes with a flair for both soothing and unnerving the listener. Pasar De Las Luces teases through long, drawn out pleasures. It’s a lift out of reality, carried with great spirit.
Pasar De Las Luces is out now via Innovative Leisure Records.