Saturday, January 24, 2009

#20 Belanova, "Paso el tiempo"

Aunque no puedas volver
No es fácil para mí
Vivir sin ti

"Paso el tiempo" was my instant favorite on Mexican group Belanova's third album, 2007's Fantasía pop, and in no small part because I saw it as spiritually the musical and lyrical follow-up to "Niño," my favorite track from their second album. Although it's not quite a perfect match, I like to imagine the story of a girl missing a boy after a wrong decision is part two of "Niño"'s narrative of a girl making the tough decision to leave her boy behind for some opportunity out in the big wide world, wherein the narrator reassures the boy that he'll be OK but knowing all the while she too will be suffering.

When she uses it properly, Denisse Guerrero's voice is still the female voice--maybe just the voice--most capable of making me swoon. Equally able to sound childish or sexy, it's a voice that is best suited for somewhere in between. The band can and has asked her to use it in a Kylie-esque way, and Denisse was able to do so, but for my money she's best suited for songs like this one and "Niño," where pastiche is abandoned and longing and sadness break their restraints and are conveyed through a mid-tempo vocal part over an up-tempo commercial pop soundscape of hyper-cute (but never twee--the electronic production saves it from that) beats. To quote from my original thoughts on the album,

I'm not sure if anyone else knows how to swoon as perfectly as Denisse; like "Niño," the chorus to this song makes me completely melt. The whole song does, to be honest, with lyrics that are simple but oh so perfect, but the way she uses her voice on the chorus, especially that first sentence--flawless. The chorus comes in two halves, and the opening lines of each half--"Quiero decirte que/sé que me equivoqué" ("I want to tell you that/I know that I was wrong" [or "made a mistake"]) and "Quiero decirte que/nunca te olvidaré" ("I want to tell you that/I will never forget you")--could not be better in sound or meaning. I know they look trite written out like that, but trust me, when sung in Denisse's voice over that synth-pop backing, they for all the world sound like someone has finally captured longing in song...and, surprisingly, it sounds slightly playful and definitely gorgeous--but no less heartbreaking.

As with "Niño," my favorite part of "Paso el tiempo," the part I live for, is the moment near the song's end where Denisse gets to ad-lib--the song and her voice reach their peak of magic there. Belanova have yet to make an album I adore in full yet, but such is the quality of their best songs that they're one of the most underrated groups out there. Pop literally doesn't get much better than this--it's an overused word, but "Niño" is transcendent.

Find it on: Fantasía pop

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