Los Bitchos - Talkie Talkie

Los Bitchos Talkie Talkie

August 30, 2024

Pre-order Talkie Talkie

“Sparkling, eclectic,” says Los Bitchos’ guitarist Serra Petale, “There’s a real sparkly edge to Talkie Talkie. That’s the mood of the record.” This description is more than fitting: the London-based quartet’s new album is glistening with charisma, sonic experimentation and a puckish spirit. Named after a fictional club of the same name, Talkie Talkie is a late-night paradise brimming with freedom and possibility; a place where partygoers can escape reality in the dance or daydream along to the invigorating soundscapes. If Los Bitchos’ electrifying 2022 debut album Let the Festivities Begin! was the rowdy build up to the big night out, then Talkie Talkie is the Technicolor explosion of the dancefloor.

Made up of lead guitarist Serra, who carries both Australian and Turkish heritage, Uruguayan synth and keytar player Agustina Ruiz, Swedish bassist Josefine Jonsson and British drummer Nic Crawshaw, the group are united by a commitment to having fun. It’s a contagious energy they’ve had no problem transmitting to the world: since the band officially arrived in 2019 with two sell-out 7" singles, they marked themselves as one of London’s brightest bands to watch. Since then, they’ve found a home in beloved indie label City Slang, ripped stages across the most coveted stages the globe over (such as Glastonbury and Coachella, as well as supporting Pavement and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard), and radiated the verve of their personalities and cultures through their exploratory take on rock’n’roll.

True to character, Talkie Talkie opens with a warm invitation, shouted in unison: “Hi!” as an intoxicating bassline and jangly riff takes over. Snatches of group chants perfectly pepper the aptly titled track – Hi, what else? – before Petale winkingly grinds to a halt: “Suck on that one, bitch!” So far, so Los Bitchos. Talkie Talkie, Charlie Charlie is a cinematic odyssey through 80s synth pop that would slot right into Black Mirror’s storied San Junipero episode; 1K revels in the mystical guitar tones and guacharaca rhythm of cumbia (a genre that Ruiz grew up on); the brilliantly titled Open the Bunny, Wasting My Time conjures images of a film protagonist on a mission, its shimmering synths underpinning a lead guitar that struts with purpose. Los Bitchos’ catalogue has always been maximal and bombastic, but Talkie Talkie’s production quality takes it up a notch with added synth bass, arpeggiators and electronic drum programming.

The album’s recording process happened over a short but intense burst of time in London’s RAK Studios and Lightship 95 (which, fun fact, is actually a boat). Over just one month, the band hunkered down with producer Oli Barton-Wood (Wet Leg, Nilüfer Yanya) and engineer Giles Barrett (Shabaka Hutchings, Ezra Collective) to render the demos in full colour. “The album went through a beautiful journey,” smiles Jonsson. “I felt much more confident and relaxed knowing that the songs were going to go through various changes. It felt like anything was possible.” This sense of liberation in the studio inevitably prompted the band to feel their fantasy and come up with the thematic core of the album, or, “the one stop shop for all things Los Bitchos.”

“Talkie Talkie just had a ring to it – for us, it captured an entire world,” explains Crawshaw of the band’s creative vision. Indeed, at the centre of Talkie Talkie is a vivid cinematic universe that takes inspiration from the band’s favourite aesthetic era: the 80s. Think less self-serious men and gated reverb and more campy, hi-fi pop songwriting that glistens with moxie. The four-piece especially tapped into the sonic innovation happening during that period, where analog and digital techniques collided to create polished texture and depth (you only have to look as far as tracks such as Naughty Little Clove and It’s About Time, the latter which enlists Snarky Puppy’s Michael League). “As much as it can be over romanticised nowadays, we’re all big fans of 80s pop culture. It’s the one era collectively we wish we got to experience specifically for its nightlife, music and fashion,” muses Petale. “We’d often say to ourselves, ‘We want to experience that, but now.’”

Los Bitchos have no qualms dipping into the deep wells of inspiration at their disposal. In fact, it’s something of a calling card for the group, who not only draw influence from their own respective corners of the world, but are unwaveringly unapologetic in doing so. “So what if we like nostalgia?” winks Petale. “Music is nostalgia.” Jonsson and Crawshaw immediately chime in to agree, explaining that part of the fun of making this record was paying homage to the fertile era that helped shape their relationship to their artistic practices, and each other. “We just really love one another! We are always in collaboration, and always lifting each other up,” beams Crawshaw. And wasn’t that the foundational principle of the 80s? Laughter erupts: “Exactly!”

“That said, we didn’t want to make a throwback record,” admits Petale. Talkie Talkie may deal in sparkling retrofuturism, but it’s anything but kitschy. Instead, the songs are shot through a uniquely Los Bitchos prism, in which the group’s desire for experimentalism and feeling shines through the most “In some ways, we are all in the same musical echo chamber, where we all take in everything, from everywhere. Like a lot of our favourite music, it invokes that little sense of sadness, but also something like hope.” Like the twisting journey at the core of Talkie Talkie, it’s “a complicated whirlwind of emotions – but a good one.”

As if on cue, penultimate track Tango & Twirl slows things down to usher in the drama, masterfully deploying a tantalising drum beat, reverb-weighted guitars and the most quietly seductive bassline on the project. It’s a song for the wistful comedown: the romantic moment of introspection on the dancefloor, where you soak it all in and reflect on the madness. “I love writing songs that people can interpret in different ways,” says Petale, also acknowledging their decision to be a purely instrumental band. “It’s about creating a pace that lets people use their imaginations. To get lost in their own world.”

Through this starry-eyed lens, Talkie Talkie is anyone’s for the taking. Just like its encouraging opening words, this is an open space for prioritising excitement, creativity, and, above all, community. Or, as Petale neatly puts it, a place to “get euphoric.”