ARTIST: LOS RETROS
LABEL: STONES THROW RECORDS
WORDS: JAMES HOLDER
A musician’s path is rarely the most well-trodden or most straightforward but that’s all part of the magic. Take Oxnard, California native Mauri Tapia. Debut EP ‘Retrospect’ might be the final product but the winding road to get there involved playing along with Dead Kennedy’s records and finding inspiration in hip hop samples. And it’s that winding road and the experiences and influences along the way that makes this EP what it is.
Los Retros is the moniker chosen by Tapia and his brother and friends under which to release their music. Music which couldn’t be further away from the punk bands the singer/song writer grew up listening to. In fact, the Los Retros style shares more than a passing resemblance to another Oxnard resident in Anderson Paak.
‘Retrospect’ gets off to a remarkably strong start with the melodic and easy listening charm of ‘Never Have Enough.’ Clearly inspired by hip hop samples of days gone by, this track is all about melody. The laid back 1970’s soul influence is impossible to ignore as Tapia floats and weaves his vocal over the top of the slick instrumentation. The song does suffer from a lack of focus as it wanders around a little in the final third, and as a result feels too long. But that’s not enough to take the shine off what is an impressive opener.
“the melodies along with Tapia’s dreamlike vocal delivery and less is more approach to song writing, that are responsible for the best moments on the record.”
The tempo then quickens but the quality doesn’t diminish with the arrival of ‘Friends.’ While its predecessor was untamed and unrestricted, this toe-tapping effort is a far more concise affair. The whole Los Retros experience is working in perfect harmony and the results are a stunning success.
However, that strong start comes to a shuddering halt with following track ‘Love Tape.’ The easy listening qualities which shine through when the EP is at its best, disappear completely. The song feels like somewhat of an experiment, and as a result doesn’t feel like it really fits with the rest of the EP although normal service is quickly resumed with ‘Nostalgia Vibrations’ and ‘Oh Grace.’ It’s the melodies along with Tapia’s dreamlike vocal delivery and less is more approach to song writing, that are responsible for the best moments on the record, and they really come to the fore here. Having said that, at times the production is a little rough around the edges with sections of ‘Oh Grace’ sounding like you’re listening under water.
“when Los Retros do really click, the results are fantastic.”
Often the key to a successful project is to start strong and finish on a high, and once again ‘Retrospect’ ticks that box, with the silky smooth ‘Last Day Of The Earth.’ Its lyrics and upbeat tempo bely its doomsday-esqe title as the closing salvo oozes class from front to back. There are old school vibes and head nodding aplenty as Tapia gently reminds us that “time is well spent, dancing with friends, cause love never ends…” How can you possibly argue with that?
‘Retrospect’ isn’t perfect, but it’s those imperfections that make it all the more endearing. There’s an honesty that makes things like the occasionally unbalanced production completely forgivable. This is also obviously aided by the fact that when Los Retros do really click, the results are fantastic. With highpoints that are stunningly high, and missteps that are relatively few, ‘Retrospect’ unquestionably deserves to be part of the soundtrack to your summer.