Pan Caliente: Vetusta Morla

It’s been a while since we’ve done an actual ‘album review’ on Pan Caliente. But Vetusta Morla’s late November release, Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar, merits a quick one.

Vetusta Morla, whose name is taken from the old turtle in the fantasy novel, The Neverending Story, formed at the turn of last century in a city not too far from Madrid. Their sound has evolved from straight ahead alternative rock and developed into melodic Spanish indie-rock.

Their fourth full-length release is far from a concept album, yet the 10 new songs fit really well as a cohesive whole. Their previous album (La Deriva), although a favorite of mine, has a lot of songs battling it out for a lead single and seems more like a collection of songs and not a standalone album.

Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar is an examination into self-awareness, and the role any individual plays in society. Be it through a tumultuous romantic relationship, as explored on “Guerra Civil,” or the destabilizing force creating chaos on “Palmeras en La Mancha.”

We also get a taste of themes like self-doubt, and the way it affects dutiful purpose, most prominent on “Deséame Suerte,” and “Te lo Digo a Ti,” respectively.

With sweet arpeggios and slightly distorted guitars, the album results in 10 sonically bright tunes. Even their down-tempo ode to the summer solstice and the pagan inspired ritual of La Fiesta de San Juan, “23 de Junio,” achieves a catchy refrain.

There’s no doubt Vetusta Morla found the right mixture to create pop ballads that can still be classified as indie-rock, and despite the poetic lyrics, this is not a somber album. Just look at the vibrant packaging that’s a mix between a coffee table book of poems and a pop-up book. This band has been very popular for many years, but this is their transformative album that will get them the crossover bleed into the collective consciousness of the mainstream, whether they meant to achieve that or not.