“Alfarroba” is the name of this, it’s title meaning ‘carob’, after the sweet tasting bean that grows in the wild trees that spontaneously spring up along the Mediterranean coast.
Maria explains further, “In Portugal there are a lot of carob trees in the Algarve and our mother’s side of the family is from there, we spent every summer there as children. The scent is unlike any other. So apart from the phonetic appeal of the word, “Alfarroba” is also a homage to that heritage”.
The songs on “Alfarroba” deal with many themes, some universal topics like love and growing up, others focusing on the nature of writing songs themselves, whilst some try to make sense of the world from a female perspective.
‘Braco de Ferro’ kick starts the album with torrents of energy, translating as ‘arm wrestling’ the song’s title is apt for a track so full of back-and-forth, ‘no prisoners’ phrasing. Julia and Maria excel at bouncing ideas off each other, snare rolls trigger flights of guitar, fogs of cymbal form steps for the vocal to climb.
“My only problem is that near you I feel so weak” they sing over and over again, there’s an honesty present that goes deep. The lyrics have a very conversational feel to them, Pega Monstro sing as they would speak, directly into your head, avoiding poetics.
‘Estrada’ for instance fortifies itself with a cement-solid riff, allowing the vocals to float and drift across the occasional lilting melodic refrain. The inevitable satisfaction that comes with repetition is shown off to full effect here, with the immense rhythm resuming when the time comes for the song’s mesmeric downpour to dissipate. “I’m going out on the road to see who I am” they sing in unison, breathing myth into their everyday anxieties.
‘Branca’ is a song with a propulsion so compelling that it’s hard not to just start spinning around with your arms trailing out like helicopter blades. The vocals drive against the drums, the drums push up against the guitar, it all feels gloriously lightheaded and overridingly positive in attitude.
Songs like ‘Fado D’AÌgua Fria’ and ‘EÌs Tudo O Que Eu Queria’ also showcase the Pega Monstro’s more reflective mood too, with both songs pausing for the clouds to pass, delivering some well-anticipated melancholic moments to offset the album’s otherwise dizzying ascent.
“Alfarroba” was produced and mixed by Leonardo Bindilatti, a good friend of the band and Cafetra Records. Bindilatti has worked on many releases from the close-knit group of bands from Lisbon, including his own Putas Bebadas, this familiarity comes through on the recording too. Nothing feels rushed, there’s a leisure afforded in getting everything sounding just right. Pega Monstro make rapturous music, it’s brisk, it’s contagious, it laughs at the language barrier and just keeps running headlong into more and more new ideas.
‘Alfarroba’ is not an exhaustive listen given that though, it’s more like an antidote than an endless anecdote, as restless, impulsive and smart as the band that made it
Upset The Rhythm