Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2024
Music | By MDN

Chicano Batman: Notebook Fantasy review – a freewheeling ode to joy | Music

Los Angeles trio Chicano Batman are singularly focused on creating music that evokes mood rather than a specific genre. On their self-titled 2010 debut they paired doo-wop grooves with Spanish vocals to create a wistful reimagining of Latino soul, while 2017’s Freedom Is Free leant into social consciousness lyrics and psychedelia, and 2020’s Invisible People riffed on sultry synth-funk. Their fifth album is typically adventurous, channelling reverb-laden electric guitars, euphoric swells of melody and infectious vocal hooks to produce some of the group’s most freewheeling music to date.

Across 12 songs, Notebook Fantasy veers from the chillwave synths of the title track to the sumptuous string orchestrations of Spanish-language ballad Era Primavera, the horn fanfares of The Way You Say It and highlight Lei Lá’s squelchy psychedelic funk. Throughout, the rhythm section is locked in, a propulsive foundation, while vocalist Eduardo Arenas’s keening falsetto brings home the group’s singalong melodies. There is the odd misfire, such as the clumsy Strokes pastiche Losing My Mind, but largely the album manages to effortlessly embrace its wide-ranging songwriting in the service of one musical mood: joy.

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