Las Cobras describe their sophomore album as taking the elements of their first album and “cranking them up to 11.” It’s a bold statement and an accurate one. With a huge variety of styles and tempos from dreamy, psychedelic riffs to quicker electronic beats, the scope of the album is enormous. But like the effect on the reporter in Spinal Tap, 11 can lead to confusion on the part of the listener. There’s a reason why most scales are 0-10 and not 0-11, and Selva is an example of why 11 is usually unnecessary.
The instrumentation and distant vocals give the sense of nostalgia. The Latin influence is felt throughout the use of the guitars. Subdued vocals haunt each track. The pacing of many of the songs is much slower than the typical electronic or rock song. The result is cinematic. Listening to this album feels like watching a western movie. When paired with the Latin riffs, the pacing makes the album feel like a solitary journey through a foreign, desolate landscape. Both are marked by the experience of nothing happening quickly. Like the desert, the soundscape is monotone, yet familiar and epic.Though tracks change, the album never seems to let you escape its terrain.
Though the instrumentation seems simplified, texture is added as the songs progress giving each track a multifaceted sound. Backed by heavy basslines and thudding drums, the multifaceted sound feels overwhelming as you go deeper into the album. Unfortunately, there’s little else besides the sonic mass to hold together the integrity of the album. The layered sound often provides interesting noises that you may not have heard paired together, but at times can be distracting from what the album has to offer. There’s a lot of different noises going on here. Some of the noises are good, but they are hard to get through in a complete listen.
At it’s best, Selva’s vocals and instrumentation work seamlessly together to successfully deliver dense sonic movements. At its worst, the album feels like a mashup of too many different styles done poorly. As the songs give impressions reminiscent of M83, MGMT, Pink Floyd, and, even, Rammsteinn, the album falls apart. Not to be described as repetitive because the tracks sound different, a description of monotone within the album would be accurate. Tracks drone on without any feeling of resolution. In the end, despite strong tracks like “Evil In Your Eyes,” “Lo Hacemos Mal,” and “Ida,” there is little holding the distant parts together that encourages one to keep listening through the entire album.