Since meeting at a gig in Buenos Aires in 2005, borrowing their friend’s instruments and deciding to form a band, Las Kellies – comprised of Ceci Kelly (guitar and vocals), Betty Kelly (bass and vocals) and Sil Kelly (drums and vocals) – have never been afraid of change. ‘Kellies’ is testament to that: a tight and taut mixture of cumbia, dub and post-punk. There’s no rehashing of conquered ground: instead, old sounds are given a new twist, and horizons are expanded once again. As Sil recently said: “Every album provides us with a new way.” And every time Las Kellies find a new way, it’s in a direction that you definitely should be following in…
There’s only thing you can bank on when you’re confronted with Las Kellies: to expect the unexpected. From the raw rock & roll of their 2007 debut ‘Shaking Dog’ – described by the great Everett True as “entirely ace” – to the Devo and ESG influenced sound of 2009’s follow-up ‘Kalimera’, this Argentinian three-piece have carved out a reputation for ripping up the form-book, delving into their box of magic tricks and serving up something entirely different. And so it is again on their third album ‘Kellies’: whether it’s embracing what they term as their “new sound” of groove-laden and irresistibly catchy post-punk or recruiting reggae legend Dennis Bovell to help in the studio, it’s the sound of a band who always keep things fresh.
‘Prince In Blue’ kicks things of with its post-punk riffs and tongue-in-cheek barbs. Potential suitors, beware: no nice boys are ever going to capture these girls’ hearts. “You’ve been treating me just too well/ Too much pressure, I’m going to hell,” they taunt, brushing unwanted attention away. ‘Keep The Horse’, meanwhile, flippantly recounts the tale of a divvying up of marital assets (“Charlie will be his/ Debbie will be hers”) and gossiping acquaintances (“Your rent is in arrears/ And your neighbours are all ears”) over a nagging helter-skelter riff that’s reminiscent of fellow South American’s CSS. On ‘Bling Bling’, they eye up your wallet size before considering romance (“I’m a bounty hunter, looking for your gold”), while ‘Erase You’ is a series of stinging retorts to a former paramour: “I’m gonna erase you, just like a drawing/ Erase you, flush you like my toilet”.
Don’t make any mistake, though: despite their love for frivolous wordplay (in both English and the language of their native Argentina, Spanish) and light-hearted approach to love, there’s nothing lightweight about ‘Kellies’. As drummer Sil Kelly says, “This album is more ‘serious’ than the others”. Whether it’s the sunny guitars of ‘Erase You’ or the brilliantly cheesy instrumental score of ‘Bife Dos’, this is their most accomplished sound yet. Sometimes, words aren’t even necessary: ‘Adventure’ tosses lyrics aside for a rumbling, ominous bass riff, stabbing echoes of guitar and clacking drums, while there’s only haunted shrieking on ‘Cous Cous’ to accompany the death-rattle sound effects to accompany the swashbuckling score.